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Autism Clusters around the Educated

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While patterns are found, the mystery of why autism occurs remains a mystery.


A new study has identified 10 places in California where instances of autism are nearly double the rates found in surrounding neighborhoods.

The clusters, says the research, are mainly in affluent areas where the demographic consists of a high concentration of mostly white, educated parents.

It's all part of an ongoing investigation to find out why cases of autism appear to centralize in certain locations and not in others. Researchers at the University of California Davis, who conducted the study, were hoping to uncover the reason for the uptick in autism, which affects 1 in 110 children.

"We already know that people with a higher education in the United States are more likely to get a diagnosis of autism for their child. It doesn't necessarily mean that autism occurs more frequently in those families," said a spokesman for the study.

next: Our Little Genius: Not Such a Bright Idea!
23 comments so far | Post a comment now
Pamala January 6, 2010, 3:11 PM

I wonder if it’s as simple as the families having the income/insurance/resources available to them that other lower income areas would not have available so they are getting diagnosed properly while in other areas families can’t afford to get a diagnosis.

naomi January 6, 2010, 4:04 PM

it might have to do with the age. more educated couples often wait until they are older to have children.

hmmm January 6, 2010, 9:24 PM

Perhaps it’s the access to vaccines via “good health coverage”

Gabe Acock January 6, 2010, 9:53 PM

Oh Please. Not the goofy vaccination arguement…

Anonymous January 6, 2010, 10:45 PM

I have to agree with Pamala. It’s much easier for wealthy people to bring their kids in for behavioral problems.

Cali teacher January 6, 2010, 11:55 PM

I wonder if it’s the prevalence of women having epidurals— that’s a huge dose of very powerful drugs for an infant’s delicate, immature immune system to try to handle. Or perhaps that, combined with the series of vaccinations that are given to babies in their first year — again, powerful medications given at a time when their little bodies are least able to handle them. Our bodies just weren’t designed for all the artificial chemicals we burden them with on a regular basis.

Randy January 7, 2010, 12:52 AM

I am originally from Santa Clara county and I had problems in school and felt as if I were in my own little world most of the time. I was either borderline autistic or had fetal alcohol syndrome. I did not come from a wealthy family.

jojo January 7, 2010, 4:03 AM

I have an autistic child. Her older brother has asperger. I am not wealthy and yes I have an education. I was in my mid twenties when I had her. She has all vaccainations. Due to not being able to hear her speech was delayed. Her doctor noticed signs when she was 18 months old. When she was 3 I took her to school to have her speech evaluated and that is when they did an iep testing and were able to put her in special education for early intervention. When she was diganosed at 3 she was on state insurance. People can have all these theories and they may be right but having an autistic child is not the end of the world and it is a blessing to have a child no matter what.

ridgerunner January 7, 2010, 5:10 AM

When we were in HS there were people who we unfairly deemed “geeks”, who probably were in the mild Ausberger’s syndrome range. Many of these highly intelligent people became the driving force behind today’s Silicon Valley computer industry, centered in California. Guess who they married? Other “geeks”! And guess what? Their children are diagnosed today as Autistic. But parents never want to look at themselves as a possible source of their children’s problems. Let’s try to blame everything else. While environmental factors and the foods that the mother may have eaten while pregnant may play some minor role, look at the genetic links more closely.

Scrapper January 7, 2010, 6:05 AM

Also the claim that autism has a higher diagnosis rate anywhere is a lot of phooey. Surely once a child is in school it is clearly recognized.

What educator would ignore hand flapping, obsessions, behavioral & learning issues?

Cheryl January 7, 2010, 6:49 AM

I have no idea why this might be, however I am all for researching every aspect of autism. The more we know about it, the better. Maybe one of these studies will provide the missing link of why kids are getting this.
@Scrapper, there are plenty of things that can and do go unnoticed in inner city schools. How do you think that so many children are able to graduate from school not knowing how to read? Surely an educator would notice if Johnny cannot read…

Scrapper January 7, 2010, 7:03 AM

Guess its been a while since Ive been in a classroom to recall all the cracks in the schooling system. Thanks for the reminder!

J January 8, 2010, 6:08 AM

Simple reason - because wealthier families have too much time on their hands and are ALWAYS looking for a new something to be wrong with their kids instead of parenting. It used to be ADD/ADHD, now it’s Autism. Now that Autism is an entire spectrum and include completely normal kids who just are socially awkward almost EVERY child in America can be diagnosed with “Autism”. As a teacher I’ve seen this time and again. There hasn’t been any jump in classic Autism - only the new “disorders” that have been created and placed on the spectrum.

maria January 15, 2011, 9:58 PM

It might be because the wealthier families can afford all the numerous wireless technology gadgets. (cordless phones, video baby monitors, wi-fi, cell phones just to name a few). Google George Carlos, Autism link to electromagnetic radiation.

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