A new study from Penn State has revealed that almost all the increase of Autism cases in the United States between 2000 and 2010 are results of reclassification. To be more precise, the primary reason behind the increase in autism in the country is reclassification of children demonstrating intellectual disabilities as autistic.

Researchers have reported that even after several decades of autism’s introduction as diagnosis professionals are taking part in diagnostic substitutions pretty regularly. They are moving people belonging to various diagnostic categories such as mental retardation, language impairment etc. to autism.

For instance, during a recent study, 489 children living in Utah since 1980 got reexamined by researchers representing ULCA. According to the initial results reported by a 1990 study, 108 kids in the group belonged to the “challenged” category, which in today’s jargon means “intellectually disabled”, but not autistic.

After returning with the aim of applying present day diagnostic standards for autism for the 108 children categorized as “challenged”, researchers found that 64 of them could be tagged as autistic other than being classified as kids with intellectual disability.

There was another study conducted by a team led by Dorothy Bishop that re-evaluated adults who were found to be suffering from developmental language disorder as children, but was not categorized as autistics.

Bishop and the research team under her used a couple of diagnostic tools for re-evaluating these adults. They found that although they were not diagnosed with the condition, a fifth of these individuals met the standards set for autism spectrum.

The latest study carried out by Penn researchers was led by Santosh Girirajan. During the study, Girirajan and his team looked at and analyzed data concerning special education enrollment of 6.2 million kids.

Must Read: Experts say reclassification should be blamed for 3X increase in Autism

While the number remained almost stable for 11 years, there were slight shifts in diagnostic categories. An increase in the number of autism diagnoses was observed, while the number of students classified as intellectually disable decreased.

Another factor influencing this change is age of the child. The shift was more common in older groups than younger groups. The shift resulted in 59% increase in autism cases among eight year olds. In 15-year-old kids, the increase was by almost 97%.

SOURCEEberly College of Science


  1. No, your not “Intellectually disabled” (aka stupid) you just have mild autism (without any special abiltiy). Anyone with children knows that not all persons are born with equal “intelligence”. Adjusting labels may or may not serve any beneficial purpose.

  2. Well if you read the Penn State press release or look at the data, only 65% of the increase is explained by reclassification. So the headline should read, increased rate of autism still not explained.

    • It is apparent an increase has happened from the data. In 1975 with 1 in 5000 to 1 in 150 in 2002 this study only explains an increase for x2 to 1 in 68 in 2012 which might be off. What is worry some is all the news articles make it seem like this explains the overall increase from the 1970’s to 2002 which is probably due to better diagnosing of the disorder not over diagnosing.

      • But how do you explain the more recent increase? I am concerned there really is an environmental factor at work that explains the early and more recent increase.

        • It is very likely an environmental factor could be lead or other types of pollution that have been around for decades. Over the years alot of autisim cases increased but went under the radar due to lack of recognition or diagnoses. Today attention drawn to the disorder has made Doctor’s recognize it earlier on in children. Which is good because early intervention usually brings a bettet quality of life.

  3. Penn don’t mind giving “new” Meningitis vaccines knowing 95% of all meningitis is caused by immortal spirochetal disease!
    They also don’t mind advocating for “ethical” approval for Anthrax vaccines for your already infected Epstein Borreliosis kids! Knowing over 10,000 soldiers took their own lives with 110,000 testified before congress jacked up on pain meds and psychotropic drugs for extra activated stealth!

    I think of it as if us humans are as varied as vegetables. How infectious diseases can cause damages in some may be exhibited totally different in another! But the funny thing is that vegetables don’t have SYNDROMES! And they aren’t crazy!
    They are either sick or they are not!