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Autism: study finds 12-fold rise in cases - Health News, Health & Families - The Independent

Up to 250,000 children have autism or a related condition on the autistic spectrum, but have not been diagnosed, researchers say. They are in addition to the 500,000 children who are known to be affected.

The authoritative study by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and colleagues of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, sets a new benchmark for future studies of the prevalence of autism in the UK, and has grave implications for education and other public services which are already overstretched. The findings imply that many more young people may need intensive lifelong support.

But the authors dismissed suggestions that changes in lifestyle or the environment were behind the rise. They put it down to improved awareness and detection, and the inclusion of milder conditions within the diagnosis.

Note how the article quotes the researchers contradicting the headline - which can be casually understood as a 12-fold increase in the prevalence of autism [spectrum disorders] as opposed to a 12-fold increase in diagnosed cases.

I've been trying to collect my thoughts regarding the "medical vs. social models of disability", (h/t In Wales)

In the UK the medical model prevails - it focuses on the individual as the problem that needs fixing and to be made as normal as possible.

The social model which disability campaigners promote focuses on society as being the source of the barriers that cause disability, rather than focusing on the individual as the problem.  

given that
Autism is a disorder of social functioning which makes it difficult for sufferers to form relationships and to communicate with other people. In the 1990s it was recognised that there was a spectrum of cases from the severely to the mildly affected, and the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome was included to cover those at the milder end.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 04:43:08 AM EST
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