An Overview of California’s Explosion in Autism Cases, from the 1980s to Today

Will the U.S. be ready on time for their growing population of adults with autism?

Californiaʼs Autism Epidemic image
72,000-and-Growing: California’s Massive Autism Epidemic (counting *only* the more severe cases) – an overview of California’s explosion in autism cases, from the 1980s to today.

Escalating over more than two decades, California’s massive epidemic of disabling autism is now triggering the largest social services crisis in the state’s history…

  • At the end of 1987, the Department of Developmental Services (“DDS”) identified a total of 3,902 Californians with functionally and substantially disabling autism meeting the strict threshold of eligibility for DDS services. The entire DDS population at the time was 80,483.
  • Now, more than two and half decades later, in mid-2014, DDS identifies 72,000 Californians with DDS-eligible autism meeting the same, or even more restrictive, criteria. The entire DDS population at this time is 282,000 and growing.
  • While the strictly-defined DDS autism population soared 1,850%, the state’s population increased only 32%. Other developmental disability categories grew in numbers as well over this period, but at modest rates. “

Read 72,000-and-Growing: Californiaʼs Autism Epidemic, AutismSociety, October 2014.

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