Autism “is more a surge in diagnosis than disease,” concludes the Los Angeles Times. Statewide, 1.1% of California elementary students have been identified as autistic, but rate is much higher in affluent communities than in rural districts.
. . . the number of students receiving autism services, including speech, behaviorial and other therapies, has grown fivefold since 2000, driving up special education costs even as school budgets are being slashed.
“Warrior parents” who fight for services get much more help, adds the Times.
For autistic children 3 to 6 — a critical period for treating the disorder — the state Department of Developmental Services last year spent an average of $11,723 per child on whites, compared with $11,063 on Asians, $7,634 on Latinos and $6,593 on blacks.
. . . The divide is even starker when it comes to the most coveted service — a behavioral aide from a private company to accompany a child throughout each school day, at a cost that often reaches $60,000 a year.
In the state’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, white elementary school students on the city’s affluent Westside have such aides at more than 10 times the rate of Latinos on the Eastside.
My niece provides after-school therapy for children on the autism spectrum. She plans to earn a doctorate in psychology and specialize in the field.