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Autism and Special Education in Israel

Orit stollerBy Anne Dachel

Dr. Orit Stoller, a pediatric neurologist with ALUT, the Israeli Society for Children and Adults with Autism

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.





Grace Green

Never a truer word written, not even on this journal which can be relied upon to bring us the truths which can't be found elsewhere.


I think it's important to look at the broader picture. We have no leaders and we are being abandoned on all fronts. Notice the complete lack to response to global warming, ocean acidification, oxygen depleated ("dead") zones in the oceans, fresh water & top-soil depletion, not to speak of financial & economic collapse and the two-tier justice system. See what happened in New Orleans? In Puerto Rico? The attempt to blame California for the fires this summer/fall? The system is no longer governable and they are leaving us to our own devices. Don't expect any help. Build local community, and batten down the hatches.

Angus Files

Smug they are not disenfranchised from the misery caused they certainly are as they always are when looking at bits of papers with numbers on it. And going by the study below it could be more Jewish children than Bedouin-Arabs but the numbers are up because of vaccines the lost word.


The vast majority of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research focuses on Caucasian populations in western world countries. While it is assumed that autism rates are similar across ethnic groups regardless of genetic background and environmental exposures, few studies have specifically examined how autism prevalence and severity may differ between majority and minority populations with distinct characteristics. Therefore, we evaluated ethnic differences in ASD prevalence and severity of Bedouin-Arab and Jewish children in the south of Israel. We compared demographic and clinical characteristics of 104 children from a Bedouin-Arab minority with 214 Jewish children who were referred to the main ASD clinic in Southern Israel with suspected communication disorders. Data were obtained from medical records. Jewish children's referral rates were almost 6 times more than that of Bedouin-Arab referral rates (21:1000 and 3.6:1000, respectively). The percentage of high functioning children with ASD was much higher in Jewish than in Bedouin-Arab children (29.6 and 2.6%, respectively). Bedouin-Arab children showed more severe autistic manifestations. Moreover, Bedouin-Arab children were more likely than Jewish children to have additional diagnosis of intellectual disability (14.5 and 6.9%, respectively). Autism prevalence and severity differs markedly between the Bedouin-Arab and Jewish populations in the south of Israel. Most striking is the almost complete absence of children with high-functioning autism in the Bedouin community. A better understanding of the causes for autism prevalence and severity differences across ethnic groups is crucial for revealing the impact of multiple genetic and environmental factors that may affect autism development in each group.

Pharma For Prison


Beleaguered Autism Mom

Bob, Not everyone is drinking the Kool-aid.
"We have known since 2014 that autism is not genetic." Said a Professor of Genetics (author of a textbook on Genetics) in an email response to me.
"It is now widely accepted that vaccines cause autism" said a Professor during a Special Education class at a State College in California (according to my daughter last year).
"I am not vaccinating my newborn daughter. I know the risks" said the 30 year old social worker who was advising me about my 17 year old autistic son's transition to adulthood.
And so the old saying goes "...you can't fool all the people, all of the time" has come to pass. Keep up the good work AoA!

Bob Moffit

Very discouraging to read the same minimization of the growing numbers of children in Israel with autism and related "severe behavioral issues" as in the USA .. with the same dismissive explanations of "better diagnosing and broader spectrum" being employed.

Always the same closing comments .. "Finally, there are environmental factors. While these haven’t been fully investigated, Stoller said, they apparently do increase the incidence of autism."

Why are the "environmental factor" ALWAYS "never fully investigated" when it comes to the health and safety of our most precious children???? Why does the United States wage unrelenting war against all other potential environmental challenges .. such as .. global warming .. yet continues to IGNORE "fully investigating environmental challenges" regarding inexplicable .. dramatic .. WELL IDENTIFIED problems with the continuing decline in our children's health?????

Apparently .. the "environmental factor" identified as a possible DANGER TO THE WORLD ARE PLASTIC STRAWS … WHICH ARE BEING BANNED IN MAJOR CITIES WITH GREAT FANFARE.


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