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California Autism Diagnoses Double in Last Four Years

October 14, 2007

From the Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2003:

California Autism Cases Nearly Double in 4 Years

A state report documents the rapid growth of the neurological disability. Scientists aren't sure what's causing increase.
By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The number of autism cases has nearly doubled in California in the last four years, and the rate of increase appears to be accelerating, according to a study by the state Department of Developmental Services.

The report, scheduled to be released today, found that the number of people with autism who are receiving services from the department rose from 10,360 in December 1998 to 20,377 by the end of December 2002 -- a 97% increase. [continued]

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From the New York Times, May 14, 2003:

Autism Diagnoses Double in California


Diagnoses of autism have nearly doubled in the last four years among children in California, state officials reported yesterday. They said they could not explain the increase.
"The number of cases is accelerating," said Dr. Ron Huff, a senior psychologist at the Department of Developmental Services, who oversaw preparation of the report, "and we do not know why."

Whether the California figures reflect a nationwide trend is not clear, since reporting practices vary from state to state. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is studying the issue in 13 states.

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From the California Department Of Developmental Services (DDS) Autism Report, 2003:

REPORT: Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Department Of Developmental Services, California
... Since the 1980s, California has experienced dramatic increases in the number of children diagnosed with autism. Autism, once a rare disorder, is now more prevalent than childhood cancer, diabetes and Down Syndrome. ...

From December 1998 to December 2002, the population of persons with autism in California that has entered the Developmental Services System nearly doubled. This unprecedented 97 percent increase in four years did not include children less than three years of age, persons classifed with less common forms of autism, or persons who are suspected of having autism but are not yet diagnosed. The total number of persons with autism served statewide increased from 10,360 in December 1998 to 20,377 in December 2002. Between 1987 and December 2002, the population of persons with autism increased by 634 percent.

Download entire Report from CA DDS Web Site