October 13, 2005

New California Autism Cases Continue To Decline

Here is the initial press release from California autism advocate (and
Regional Center lobbyist) Rick Rollens.

California Reports: New Autism Cases Continue To Decline

According to information released today by the California Department of Developmental Services (www.dds.ca.gov), the number of new cases of professionally diagnosed full syndrome DSM IV autism entering California's developmental services system declined from 734 new cases during the second quarter of 2005 (April through June) to 678 new cases during the just completed third quarter of 2005 (July through September), a 7 1/2% decline in one quarter.

During the first three quarters of 2003 California added 2,449 new cases, last year in 2004, California added 2,267 new cases of autism, and most recently, during the first three quarters of this year, 2005, there have been 2,148 new cases added to the system.

The recent continuing decline of new cases of autism is occurring against the backdrop of over two decades of record setting consecutive years of new cases of autism entering California's 36 year old system. Even with the declining numbers, autism as a category, the other categories being mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy, now comprises 66% of all new intakes, or 2 out of every 3 persons now entering California's system has been professionally diagnosed with full syndrome, DSM IV autism..easily making autism the number one disability entering California's developmental services system.

It is important to note, that in California's developmental services system, children under the age of 3 years old are NOT counted in DDS's quarterly reports. Also, only those persons with professionally diagnosed full syndrome autism, not including PDD, NOS, Asperger's, or any other autism spectrum disorder, are included in these reports.

The latest quarterly report confirms the trend of decreasing number of new cases entering California's developmental services system.

UPDATE: Teresa Binstock has a good, albeit technical, frame of reference as to how the numbers in California fit into the current biomedical theory of autism:

Yesterday, Rick Rollens shared California news wherein the number of new autism cases has again declined, thus potentially reflecting the gradual reduction in thimerosal injections into Calif infants and toddlers.

Several days ago, Dan Olmsted's most recent column featured a arent who wrote "My child is toxic" (1), wherein the parent well expresses the challenge of inter-individual differences among children with autistic traits.

The two news items - Calif's reduced rate, toxic children - are related. First, thimerosal probably is not a major etiologic agent in *all* cases of autism, tho' thimerosal may have been a major etiologic agent in many and perhaps most cases of autism. Secondly, as previous citations have delineated, many, perhaps most, and nearly all human-made toxins are detoxified via cellular processes dependent upon glutathione.

A ramification is that the so-called "background" toxins increasingly documented in human bodies, amniotic fluid, cord blood, and breast milk contribute to the depleting of intra-body glutathione and thereby tend to overwhelm cellular detoxification, and thereby increase the likelihood of developing adverse sequelae when a bolus dose (eg, thimerosal injection) occurs and/or when a given locale has a high level of another toxin or several (eg, arsenic in water, on playgrounds equipment).

The Calif data suggest that the reduced number of thimerosal injections has induced a decrease in the bolus doses of ethylmercury injected into children who nonetheless retain a high level of "background" toxins. Many such children (high toxin levels, virtually no injected thimerosal) would seem likely to develop at least some adverse sequelae from the 'background' toxins - even if traits defining DSM-IV autism do not appear in full force in otherwise affected children. Furthermore, other epidemics (eg, childhood and adult cancers) appear to have environmental factors as etiologically significant.

Three points in closing:

1. The toxic child had "chronic constipation since infancy" (1), thus
gastrointestinal problems and a likelihood of impaired nutritional status were occurring prior to his regression. The impaired nutritional status is likely to have corresponded to a lower availability of glutathione's precursors and thus to a gradual increase in the child's intra-body toxic load. The gradual increase in his body burden of toxins finally manifested into a regression that included observable traits defining autism (DSM-IV).

2. Decreasing environmental toxins in individuals, in our communities, and in the biosphere has become a necessity. However, modern economic systems contain numerous financial incentives (a) for inventing, selling, and releasing toxins, (b) for shortcutting on pollution controls, and (c) for profiting via OTCs and pharmaceuticals used to mask the chronic symptoms induced by chronic exposures to "background" toxins. These financial incentives need to be minimized then eliminated.

3. A recent study documented that children's levels of toxins can be rapidly decreased when the child's diet includes more organic foods and fewer non-organic foods. That finding by NIH researchers suggests an important principle: reducing the level of toxins entering a child's body is likely to increase his or her availability of glutathione needed for detoxification.

Teresa Binstock
Researcher in Developmental & Behavioral Neuroanatomy


Anonymous said...


I understand that all the intakes are declining for all the disabilities because of the way they tightened the intake requirements a little while ago... something like 18 mos.

Lets see the graphs for CP and MR and epilepsy, before we get all goose pimply about how taking thimerosal has been the cause of the decline.

Rick Rollens did a press release about the tightening of the restrictions when it happened, maybe he could tell you about it.

I'm curious about why you haven't blogged about your trip to DC, it must have been a unique experience.

Wade Rankin said...

"I understand that all the intakes are declining for all the disabilities because of the way they tightened the intake requirements a little while ago..."

Do you mean that changing the input criteria for a statistical analysis has an impact on the results? But that would mean we couldn't trust the Verstraeten report or the Danish studies we've all heard so much about.

So far, we're seeing a statistical trend in California. While I agree with Mille that we should wait for the next report before we make any definitive statements, we just may be seeing another piece of the puzzle.

Becca said...

I can't believe I didn't get an email or anything on the DDS numbers. All I got was the SAR newsletter about it.
Do you have a link to the press release?

Ginger Taylor said...


I don't know that there was a press release.

If there was one I would have gotten it or at least any stories written on it through my many news sources.

Now why woudn't the State of California issue a press release on such an important story?

Ginger Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ginger Taylor said...


No strong conclusions yet as this trend needs to have more time to unfold and more indepth investigation into the details and confounding factors.

But It is certianly something that we need to have an eye on. Dropping numbers only adds strength to the arguement that thimerosal content has something to do with autism.

Also, the tightening of inclusion criteria would have meant one big change in the chart when that policy was implimented, but then afterward the trend should continue on the same trajectory if thimerosal content had something to do with autism. It would not account for numbers dropping quarterly over 8 or 12 consecutive quarters.

For that to happen, they would have to be changing inclusion criteria every quarter as to edge out a few more kids.

I don't know when the inclusion criteria was changed, if you have that let me know, but there is a dip in cases in 2000, then the trend gets back on track.

I have posted the graph of yearly increases at http://www.autismfiles.com/yearlygraph.html This graph makes it easier to see yearly trends. Note the dip in 2000.

***For the purposes of this graph, I estimated the 4th quarter 2005 numbers by averaging the drop for the first three quarters of the year. The average was 43, so I assume that there will be 43 fewer for a total increase of 665.

Be sure you don't pass this graph along as the 2005 measurement is not gospel. I will replace this graph at the end of the year with the numbers that are gospel.***

...and I have not written about dc yet because I just have not had time. Will get that out.

JP said...


Limitation of the California DDS numbers aside - for these to be indicative of any relationship between thimerosal and autism, the decline in the number of children 5 and younger that have autism codes should be greater and more dramatic than the decline in older children.

That is not the case. There's a similar decline in the number of autism cases among 6-9 year olds, and an even steeper decline among 10-13 year olds. I did recently post on this topic:


Autism cases in California are declining, but they're declining in a number of different age groups - including those who would have been unaffected by the removal of thimerosal in vaccines.

I think Rick Rollens' continued use of total autism cases to imply that thimerosal removal affected autism rates is intellectually dishonest. The reality is that something is impacting the number of cases of autism tracked by the California DDS, but I don't think it's the removal of thimerosal. Criteria tightening, budget constraints and a slight slowdown in population growth are likely culprits.

Ginger Taylor said...


Your comment does not take into account the fact that 6 to 13 year olds are vaccinated.

You would have to be able to take a look at the cases to see if the change in the numbers of older children is from fewer new diagnosis or children in the system dropping their diagnosis to see if this were a possibility, but it could be that Autistic children who are no longer being given thimerosal boosters have a better chance to detox. Their bodies not being re-burdened with thimerosal every few years.

A better case for your argument would be if adults who are not longer being regularly vaccinated are dropping at the same rate.

My son is in the California system, and the way the 'budget tightening' has worked in our case is not that the state tried to keep from diagnosing him as Autistic, both evaluations he got were good assessments of him, but that once he is in the system, they offer you fewer and crappier services.

I would have to ask around to see if the experience of getting the 299.00 diagnosis by the state has been the same for other parents.

Again, these are all very broad strokes, and unless a more detailed look at what is actually happening in Cali, there will always be questions.

Just to drive home the point I make all to often: It seems to me that the CDC should easily be able to come in and take a look at the California data to see EXACTLY what is accounting for a change in the numbers, rather than just letting us and the rest of the country conjecture as to what they MIGHT mean.

Yet another question the Federal Government could answer and doesn't.

Ginger Taylor said...

This is an email from another California mom who experienced the changes in eligibility first hand when dealing with the system. Going by this, the change in inclusion criteria did not actually change for autistic children, because the new criteria of impairments that children must have were already included in the DSM IV diagnosis:

“I am all too aware of that "change" in CA diagnostic criteria. There were significant numbers of kids in the system with diagnoses of cerebral palsy -- many of whom were so mild (no need for any type of assistance) that the system had to be changed. When we decided to not enter the system in mid 2003, they explained the changes and even that it would not affect the autism category because impairment in the areas listed are inherent in the definition of DSM IV autism. The only change to the autism requirement was the following:

"Significant functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity:"

1. Self-care
2. Receptive and expressive language
3. Learning
4. Mobility
5. Self-direction
6. Capacity for independent living
7. Economic self-sufficiency”

However, the requirement of DSM IV was consistent both before and after the 2003 rules change. It is impossible that a child with DSM IV autism would not be limited in at least three of the areas above -- and most likely all of the areas above. By definition, that is what DSM IV means.”