Source: S.C. State Department of Education, as Reported on The State
There are some who scoff at the notion that there is an actual autism epidemic. They ridicule the idea that the startling rise in autism diagnoses can be attributed to any real environmental cause. For those who refuse to see the autism elephant in the room the rise in autism diagnoses is attributable entirely to the expansion in the 1994 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM-IV, of the autism spectrum diagnoses from autistic disorder or classic autism to include Aspergers Disorder. But even that explanation does not explain the dramatic increase in the numbers in the last five years in South Carolina.
In South Carolina, as reported in Rising autism rates challenge schools on the State web site, the numbers of autism students counted by public schools has doubled since .... 2003 ... a period which begins 9 years AFTER the DSM-IV autism definition expansion. Even more troubling for the simplistic change in definition explanation for dramatic increases in autism in South Carolina is the fact that the doubling in autism cases counted in the public schools refers to a doubling of the classic autistic disorder diagnoses. It does not include Aspergers Disorders:
The number of students diagnosed with autism in South Carolina’s public schools has more than doubled in the past five years, creating more challenges in programming and staffing for education officials.
The state Department of Education counted 2,685 students in 2007, up from 1,283 students in 2003, with autism as their leading disorder. Official data for 2008 was not completed by mid-December, when school districts are required to update their totals .....
[Craig Stoxen, President,S.C.Autism Society], added that the state’s totals still are far less than the number of actual students with autism, or autism-related conditions. Because the state only counts the primary disorder, and because autism is just one of several disorders classified as an “autism spectrum disorder,” the level of incidence among students is underestimated, Stoxen said.
While some argue that there is no autism epidemic Education officials in South Carolina do not enjoy the luxury of hiding behind such an assumption. They are busy trying to provide the necessary supports to enable South Carolina students with autism disorders with real educations. In South Carolina schools autism is rising. Autism reality can not be ignored.