Elsewhere – 10-year study reveals autism not national epidemic

By Ann Babe

Badger Herald (U. Wisconsin)

(U-WIRE) MADISON, Wis.-A University of Wisconsin scientist is challenging recent rumors of a national autism epidemic, pointing to a new study.

The study was conducted by Paul Shattuck, a researcher at the UW Waisman Center, in response to a set of statistics released by the U.S. Department of Education.

The statistics-which span from 1992 to 2002-reveal a more than 15,100 percent increase in autistic children in Wisconsin.

Shattuck instead attributed the tremendous increase in autism to a change in the classification system of special-education children.

“My hope is that this research helps people put these numbers in perspective,” Shattuck said. “Most people don’t realize that autism was not added as a separate reporting category until the 1990s.”

Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw concurred, adding that Congress did not formerly require the department to collect statistics specific to autism.