Just because more older women in Sacramento are having children after the age of 35 or 40, is there a connection to the rising, even quadrupling number of autistic children enrolled in special education classes locally? See the articles, Autism risk rises 50% for older mothers, say scientists | Mail Online, Moms Over 40 | Study links mother’s age to child’s risk of autism … , and Autism, Older Parents Link Detailed – CBS News.
Mothers over age are nearly twice as likely to have a child with autism, according to new studies. What does this signify for the increase of students with autism in Sacramento’s local schools, since the rate has dramatically increased. But moms have been having children at older ages since the 1970s.
Why has the autism rates quadrupled during the past decade in Sacramento? Check out the Sept. 3, 2011 Sacramento Bee article by Philip Reese, “Autism rates quadruple in local schools over last decade – Sacramento Bee.” Did you every wonder why 10 years ago fewer than 500 students in Sacramento County public schools were enrolled in special education classes because they were diagnosed as having autism. A decade later, the number now has increased to 2,275 — about one of every 105 pupils, according to state data released this week.
Nationwide increases in autism diagnoses have been attributed to increased awareness and changing definitions of the disorder. Whether autism is actually more prevalent — as opposed to just more frequently diagnosed — is a matter of controversy. Autism is most prevalent in white males. Among large districts in Sacramento County, the highest rates of special education children with autism are in Elk Grove Unified — one autistic child per 85 students — and in Folsom-Cordova Unified — one autistic child per 74 students.
Children with autism-spectrum disorders may be singled out by other children and teachers due to their repetitive behavior. Autism is a matter of degree on a spectrum and may be slight or severe in a child’s ability to socialize and communicate.
The big question is whether the autism in special education classes were not reported in past decades or whether it has increased and is just being reported. Special education classes in Sacramento County report the highest number of autistic children, usually white males, but not always, is found in the Elk Grove school district with 729 autistic students reported to be in special education classes, according to the Sacramento Bee article.
Next, is Sacramento City school district with 504 autistic students enrolled in special education. Third in place is Folsom Cordova school district with 264 autistic children enrolled in special education classes. Fourth is San Juan school district with 327 students enrolled in special education classes.
Twin Rivers school district has 183 autistic students enrolled in special education classes, and Natomas school district has 129 students in special education classes who are reported to be austistic. Sacramentans need to ask why has there been an increase in autism here during the past decade–or as reported being placed in special education classes with the ‘diagoses’ of autism? The big question is whether autism is increasing.
Was autism unreported as much in past decades, or did autistic students not get placed in special education programs in the past? The other possibility is that there is some cause of the increasing numbers of students called autistic. Is it about the increase in maternal age or something else when it comes to spectrum disorders? And if there’s a genetic component, white males do seem to be diagnosed more with autism than females. There are autistic females. See, Toys Help Autistic Girl Learn Skills – Video – KCRA Sacramento. Also see the Web MD article, The Challenges of Raising a Child With Autism.