No matter what kinds of increases are happening, nothing will be done to address them. I’m convinced of it. Stories about more and more special education students, more diagnosed with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, mental problems should be getting everyone’s attention, but the old bromides about better diagnosing/greater awareness show no signs of going away.
One of the first Loss of Brain Trust website stories of the new year is a chilling example of how education is changing around the world.
On Jan 3, 2018, (Israel) Haaetz published the story, Israel Sees 12 Fold Increase in Autistic Children in Special Ed Since 2000, by Shira Kadari-Ovadia.
'Israel’s increase is exceptional': In 2000 there were 894 autistic children in special education, in 2018 the number has grown to 11,145 …
The number of autistic children in special education has grown more than 12-fold in less than two decades, from 894 in 2000 to 11,145 in 2018, a new report said.
The number of children with severe behavioral problems increased more than seven-fold during this period, from 2,347 to 17,483.
Overall, the number of children in special education has jumped 127 percent since 2005, while the total number of schoolchildren climbed only 33 percent, the study said. During this same period, the Education Ministry’s budget for special education rose 138 percent, while its budget for ordinary education climbed 71 percent.
So it isn’t just autism that’s disabling more Israeli children, it’s also special education in general that’s growing and most notably, kids with “severe behavioral problems.”
Nevertheless, Israel’s increase is exceptional, he said, which suggests that “we need to examine the Education Ministry’s definitions. It’s not reasonable that there should be such a large gap between the increase in special-needs students and that of other students.”…
Predictably, the rest of the article was an involved attempt to explain the increases away by an expert with impressive credentials after her name. Her message: Things are really not so bad.
Dr. Orit Stoller, a pediatric neurologist with ALUT, the Israeli Society for Children and Adults with Autism, said the rise in autism is also related to an expanded definition of the syndrome. …
Additionally, she said, awareness of disability grew and diagnostic tools were improved, so autism can now be discovered at a younger age.
But the increase isn’t just a function of definitional and diagnostic changes, Stoller added. The fact that women are giving birth at older ages raises the risk of children on the autism spectrum. So does the fact that more premature babies survive these days, since autism is more common in preemies.
Surprisingly at the end, there was a brief two sentence reference to possible environmental causes.
Finally, there are environmental factors. While these haven’t been fully investigated, Stoller said, they apparently do increase the incidence of autism.
Dr. Stoller left the whole idea of outside triggers hanging in midair and immediately retreated to the tired recommendation that getting that early diagnosis is best. It’s all mainstream medicine ever has to offer.
Nevertheless, she stressed that early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve a child’s functioning.