Recently UC Davis researchers identified clusters of autism, that is, places where it was diagnosed at a higher rate than other places in the state of California. It has long been believed that areas where parents are highly-educated with a technological bent have a greater incidence of autism. The thought was that parents who gravitate towards these fields may have a genetic predisposition to autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
The clusters throughout the state have painted a different picture. In the area of Southern California, with four of the clusters centered around the more affluent areas of Los Angeles and one around the Orange County Regional Center, it is believed that the higher the education, and more income a parent has, the more the parent fights for diagnosis for their child. Therefore, it isn't that the parent has a greater predisposition towards children with autism, his child is only diagnosed better.
If this is so, what this means is that the numbers of children with autism in the state of California is even higher than previously believed. If more parents with the education and financial resources to pursue diagnosis are being helped and granted services (it isn't divulged how many must go through the appeals process after being denied their services initially)
then it would stand to reason that parents who are not as well-educated and have little financial resources are being UNDERserved by the regional centers. A whole lot of kids are going without diagnosis, and consequently, are not getting the help they need.
Another thought: not all children who are diagnosed with autism, high-functioning autism or Asperger's Sydrome become clients of the Regional Center. Some children are too high-functioning to qualify for support services through the program. That does not make them any less autistic. Again, an contigent that the regional center has not even considered.
Instead of trying to cover up the numbers with explanations, why not just figure out what is causing this epidemic? Currently 1 in 10 children will be diagnosed with autism.
The clusters were located by regional centers in Orange County (all of OC) Los Angeles (West L.A. Santa Monica, Inglewood; North LA County, South LA County ) San Diego (San Diego and Imperial Counties), San Francisco, San Andreas (Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey Counties).
map: UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute UC Regents.
photo copyright Becky Wetherington