Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

A view of autism -- Making sense of the numbers

April 15, 2014

Tags: autism, incidence of autism, prevalence of autism, Young-Shin Kim, ASD, autism spectrum disrders

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First published in Print: 04/04/2014

We live in a world of Big Data, spending much time searching for meaning in its vast shadows and often emerging from those shadows drawing wildly different conclusions. But the hard facts of Big Data become so soft and malleable in varied human hands, and solid data points often transform into flexible storylines.

Two weeks ago, another vast shadow of Big Data drifted over U.S. media outlets when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported its upwardly revised prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, or ASD. Its 2010 surveillance of 8-year-old children identified 1 in 68 -- 1 in 42 boys, and 1 in 189 girls -- as having ASD.

Emerging from that report, media headlines often concluded that autism rates were "surging." Others heralded the data as proof of an incremental jump in the number of children living with autism.

But what was true? (more…)

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