Autism Rates Triple in California Schools


Joanna Lin over at the CaliforniaWatch.org highlights the latest findings on the rise of autism among California’s schools. Nationally, the rates of autism have been on the rise as well, although they vary from state to state. We still don’t know what causes autism, but as Kevin Drum has argued here, and here, we do know for sure that vaccines aren’t it. Meanwhile, in California, Lin writes:

“Special education students with autism in California have more than tripled in number since 2002, even as overall special education enrollment has remained relatively flat, according to an analysis of state education data.

More than 680,000 students—11 percent of all California public school students—are enrolled in special education. The number of students diagnosed with autism climbed from 17,508 in 2002 to 59,690 in 2010, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health found.

Students with autism represented 8.8 percent of all special education enrollment last year, up from 2.6 percent in 2002. Other health impairments—defined by the state as “limited strength, vitality or alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems,” such as a heart condition, asthma, epilepsy or leukemia—are also on the rise, comprising 7.9 percent of disabilities among special education students.

 

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  • Kristina Rizga

    Kristina Rizga is a former education correspondent at Mother Jones. You can reach her at kristina@rizga.com. Rizga covers education, focusing primarily on how school reforms affect students and teachers in the classrooms, and how policies create or reduce racial disparities in schools. She is the author of Mission High (Nation Books, 2015).