Thursday, July 19, 2007

Autism Surging in Massachusetts - Part 2

With the focus right now on the allegations of very serious misconduct that have been levelled against "MMR" Dr. Andrew Wakefield many people are missing important information suggesting that autism is indeed, for whatever reasons, surging. Simon Baron-Cohen cites as authoritative a 1 in 100 incidence rate of autism in the UK; substantially greater than the 1 in 150 US figure cited by the CDC. Meanwhile in Massachusetts "Heidi P. Guarino, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said the rate in Massachusetts is closer to 1 in 130 children, based on data provided by public school districts. The number of school-age children with autism in Massachusetts jumped 84 percent from 4,080 in 2002 to 7,521 this past school year. In Central Massachusetts the number nearly doubled from 692 to 1,349 in the same period. Before the 2002-03 school year, the DOE did not track the disorder separately, Mrs. Guarino said. "

Part of the increase may be due to more appropriate diagnosis as suggested in the Worcester Telegram article "Autism rate soaring", July 19 2007. For now as the Telegram article reports research has not found a cure but "experts say the earlier the intervention the better. Highly structured behavioral training and educational programs help autistic children develop social and language skills."

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