Three Reasons Not to Believe in an Autism Epidemic

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In the article, "Three Reasons Not to Believe in an Autism Epidemic," the authors developed three arguments against the belief of autism as an epidemic. Furthermore, the authors assert that the causes of the increase of autism is affected by raised public awareness of the condition of autism, broadened diagnostic criteria, and improved case finding of individuals with autism. Beginning in 1940, there were only three known symptoms for autism. In 1980, there were six mandatory standards an individual had to meet in order to be diagnosed with autism. Then, in 1994, the provisions were broadened to sixteen optional criteria, eight of which had to be met for an individual to be diagnosed, but what was not mentioned was that before 1940, there was no record of diagnoses of autism. This gave the public the impression that autism was a newly discovered mental illness; this assumption was supported by the dramatic growth in the statistical data, which was employed to describe the increase of autism since the 1940's. Because of a better understanding of the intricacies of the human mind, in more recent years, more individuals have been accurately identified as autistic. The purported rise the in numbers of individuals diagnosed with autism was of major concern to the authors; many people did not understand the implications of the broadened criteria. So, this lead the public to believe that there was an ‘outbreak' in the population of individuals with autism. Also, due to increased public awareness, the Department of Developmental Services began to make school districts responsible for classifying individuals with autism, and setting up special programs to cater to the needs of these children. Yet, even with this implementation of the IDEA, there were problems with the way that each state carried out this law because each state, school district, and school system vary. Essentially, all of these things have increased public awareness of autism, but have given the...
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