The data used by autism advocacy groups to demonstrate a rapid rise in the rate of autism are based on unreliable data according to an article in this month’s Pediatrics. (US Department of Education Data on “Autism” Are Not Reliable for Tracking Autism Prevalence.)
It doesn’t mean autism isn’t on the rise. We just don’t know, because the US Department of Education data were never meant for tracking prevalence.
July 12, 2005
The USDE data show not only a rise in overall autism prevalence with time but also a significant and nearly linear rise in autism prevalence within a birth-year cohort as it ages, with significant numbers of new cases as late as 17 years of age. In addition, an unexpected reduction in the rise of autism prevalence occurs in most cohorts at 12 years of age, the age when most children would be entering middle school.