From the Contra Costa Times, May 7–California saw a twelvefold increase during the past two decades in the number of autistic people who are receiving services through regional centers, a new state study reveals. The dramatic rise in autism has broad implications for California families, taxpayers and social service agencies. “This is a shocking recognition of the challenges we face, today and into the future,” said Rick Rollens, the father of an autistic child and a co-founder of the Medical Investigation of Neurological Disorders Institute at UC Davis.
From 1987 to 2007, the number of children and adults with autism served by regional centers rose from 2,701 to 34,656, notes a study released this week by the state Department of Developmental Services. That is a nearly 1,200 percent increase. By contrast, the state’s general population grew by 27 percent during that time frame. Other disabilities saw much smaller growth rates. Regional center clients with mental retardation increased by 95 percent, cerebral palsy by 73 percent, and epilepsy by 66 percent.