When is an epidemic not an epidemic? When it's an artifact!
"Is autism really on the rise? A new study entitled, "U.S. Department of Education Data (USDE) on 'Autism' Are Not Reliable for Tracking Autism Prevalence" says that the data that many autism advocacy groups are using to show a rapid increase in autism may not be accurate. The author of the study analyzed the USDE data and found that the results strongly conflict with the findings of several other autism prevalence studies.
The USDE data suggests that there are as many children who are newly diagnosed as autistic at 15 years of age as there are at eight years of age. In contrast, four recent studies suggest that the majority of diagnoses are made before age eight. Another inconsistency in the USDE data is that it seems to show a break in the rise of autism prevalence between age 11 and 12. This is actually the time in which milder cases of autism are most likely discovered due to the change of moving from the structured environment of elementary school to the more self-directed environment of middle school.
The author says the USDE's data problems are due to the fact that the school districts' criteria for identification were inconsistent. The school districts were the source of data for the USDE."
Since many of the anti-vaccination weirdos and autism-dogmatists use the USDE data to support their increasingly flimsy claims, this article should ignite a real firestorm of protest. Fortunately, protest and unbottled angst will not change the facts.
Let the games begin!