Korea: 1 in 38 kids have autistic traits

Autism diagnoses — including children somewhere on the “autism spectrium” — are soaring. Is it a real rise or a change in diagnosis?  Korean researchers say 1 in 38 children have autistic traits; two-thirds attend mainstream classes and receive no special help.  This looks like seek and you shall find.

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  1. I worked in the mental health field for a few years, and I used to think it was one of those “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” type of deals, but the more I learn about the brain and its wiring, the more I’m convinced that there’s something to this. Maybe not in every case, and I do think it’s probably a really incomplete picture we’re seeing, but I think there’s enough data out there to suggest that kids are wired differently these days. Call it autism, call it the digital age, call it whatever, but the phenomenon appears real.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    One looks harder when grants are in prospect. Definitions change, too.

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    I’m seeking the link to this Korean study, and not finding it in this post. Anyone have the real link?

  4. @Cardinal Fang: The actual study is behind a pay wall, I believe. I read about it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/health/research/09autism.html

  5. Cardinal Fang says:
  6. Cardinal Fang says:

    The authors of the study make the point that their methodology might have incorrectly yielded an autism disorders prevalence that is too high. They attempted to screen all the 7-12 year olds in a Korean town. They screened every kid in the special ed system. They also gave screening questionnaires to all of the schools, to be completed by teachers and parents of every child not already in the special ed system.

    But only 2/3s of the schools participated, and of participating schools, less than 2/3s of the parents returned questionnaires. The researchers assumed that the non-participating schools, and the children of the non-participating parents, were just the same as the participants. But they note that maybe parents and teachers who were not diagnosed, but who seemed to maybe have some sort of problem, would be more likely to return the questionnaire. Students who screened positive for an autism disorder were thoroughly evaluated by trained clinicians to see if they did in fact have an autism disorder– parents and teachers of odd kids might have jumped at the chance to get that evaluation, whereas parents and teachers of normal kids might not have bothered to fill out the screening questionnaires.