Why are so many children developing autism?

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The number of children diagnosed with autism has risen dramatically during the past few decades. Researchers are now calling it an urgent health matter; some are calling it an epidemic. Between 1991 and 1999, the number of children in the United States receiving special education services for autism rose to 500%. The rate has nearly doubled in the past ten years across the United States. In 2002, the number of children in the United States with autism was 1 in every 150 children. At this point in time, approximately one in every eighty children has autism (Baio, 2012). This increase is not only happening in the United States. Studies have found rates to be rising in Canada (Ouellette-Kuntz, Coo, & Gorski, 2012) and in Europe (Baron-Cohen et al., 2009) also.
After completing the required readings for this week, post an initial response discussing the following three possible causes or reasons for this increase in prevalence:

  • Why are so many children developing autism?
  • Does research indicate that the rise is due to better methods for identifying and diagnosing children with autism, or is there some environmental, genetic, or cultural reason for the increase?
  • What should we do, as a society, to address this epidemic?

Address each of the questions and cite your sources properly.

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Baio, J. (2012). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders—Autism and
Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 sites, United States,
2008. CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report61(SS03), 1–19.
Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6103a1.
Baron-Cohen, S., Scott, F. J., Allison, C., Williams, J., Bolton, P., Matthews,
F. E., & Brayne, C. (2009). Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions:
UK school-based population study. The British Journal of Psychiatry,
194(6), 500–509. Retrieved from http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/194/6/
Ouellette-Kuntz, H., Coo, H., & Gorski, D. (2012). Findings from the National
           Epidemiologic Database for the Study of Autism in Canada: Changes
           in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in Newfoundland and
           Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Southeastern Ontario. Ottawa,
ON, Canada: Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Retrieved from

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