Department of Education statistics point to a rise in autism cases from nearly 42,500 in 1997 to about 225,000 in 2006.
Support Groups have called for increase in funds to enable more research on autism. This has also forced American doctors to recommend screening for kids at two intervals before they turn two years old.
Many experts feel these behaviors have long been present, even 3 to 4 decades ago. But today's increase in autism cases can be attributed to two things- due to burgeoning growth of special schools meant for autistic children and also a change in the way doctors diagnose autism.
Earlier, the basic premise to test for autism was deficiencies in language development and abnormal repetitive behavior. In 1990 conditions associated under autism was broadened to include some other associated conditions under a new label called "autism spectrum disorders." After these changes, more than 50% of the families fell into one or the other categories of autism. This could be one of the reasons for the increase in autism statistics, experts surmise.
According to Dr. Edwin Trevathan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "The truth is there's a powerful incentive for physicians and schools to classify children in a way that gets services."
Environmental factors are also being blamed for the rise in autism cases. Whatever be the reason, research on autism needs to be stepped up and to do so more funds need to be allocated for autism research.