Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1036–1046 | Cite as

Trends in Autism Prevalence: Diagnostic Substitution Revisited

  • Helen Coo
  • Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz
  • Jennifer E. V. Lloyd
  • Liza Kasmara
  • Jeanette J. A. Holden
  • M. E. Suzanne Lewis
Original Paper

Abstract

There has been little evidence to support the hypothesis that diagnostic substitution may contribute to increases in the administrative prevalence of autism. We examined trends in assignment of special education codes to British Columbia (BC) school children who had an autism code in at least 1 year between 1996 and 2004, inclusive. The proportion of children with an autism code increased from 12.3/10,000 in 1996 to 43.1/10,000 in 2004; 51.9% of this increase was attributable to children switching from another special education classification to autism (16.0/10,000). Taking into account the reverse situation (children with an autism code switching to another special education category (5.9/10.000)), diagnostic substitution accounted for at least one-third of the increase in autism prevalence over the study period.

Keywords

Autism Autistic disorder Diagnostic substitution Prevalence Edudata Canada British Columbia Ministry of Education 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Coo
    • 1
  • Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jennifer E. V. Lloyd
    • 3
    • 4
  • Liza Kasmara
    • 5
    • 6
  • Jeanette J. A. Holden
    • 2
    • 7
  • M. E. Suzanne Lewis
    • 5
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Community Health and EpidemiologyQueen’s University, c/o Ongwanada Resource CentreKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryQueen’s University, OngwanadaKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Edudata Canada, Faculty of EducationUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP)VancouverCanada
  5. 5.Department of Medical GeneticsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  6. 6.Department of Human Development, Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  7. 7.Department of PhysiologyQueen’s University, OngwanadaKingstonCanada
  8. 8.Department of Medical Genetics, BC Children’s and Women’s Health CenterChild & Family Research InstituteVancouverCanada

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