Not so long ago, autism was the rarest of diagnoses, occurring in fewer than one in 2,000 people.
Now the rate has skyrocketed to 1 in 88 in America (and to a remarkable 1 in 38 in Korea).
And there is no end in sight.
That unexpected jump has three obvious causes.
Most important, the diagnosis has become closely linked with eligibility for special school services.
Having the label can make the difference between being closely attended to in a class of four versus being lost in a class of 40.
Probably as many as half of the kids labeled autistic wouldn’t really meet the DSM IV criteria if these were applied carefully. (…)
A third cause has been overstated claims coming from epidemiological research — studies of autism rates in the general population. For reasons of convenience and cost, the ratings in the studies always have to be done by lay interviewers, who aren’t trained as clinicians and so are unable to judge whether the elicited symptoms are severe and enduring enough to qualify as a mental disorder.
Just a thought:
Instead of all these millions of “special” kids needing help with their “learning disorders” — maybe the problem lies in crazy standard educational methods.