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.