Autism in Scotland’s Schools.

Yesterday I promised to return to the figures for autism in Scottish schools when the detailed figures were published. Just to remind you, The Scotsman claimed that

Official statistics show 825 pupils were diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder in state secondaries in 2005, compared with 114 in 1999 – an increase of 623 per cent. Over the same period, the number of autistic youngsters in primary schools more than quadrupled, from 415 to 1,736.

The increases emerged in a written parliamentary answer to be made public today.

I read the answer and noticed something that the Scotsman had ignored.

Robert Brown: The information requested is provided in the following tables. It should be noted that prior to and including 2001 the data was based on pupils with Records of Needs only. From 2002 onwards the data includes pupils with Records of Needs and/or Individualised Educational Programmes.

I have taken these figures from the Scottish tables and calculated the real percentage increases. 

 

1999

2001

%change

2002

2005

%change

Primary

415

653

+57%

1142

1736

+52%

Secondary

114

224

+96%

415

825

+99%

What this means is that prior to 2002 only those pupils who had been through a rigorous statutory assessment were included. From 2002 the criteria were broadened to include all pupils who were identified as having special educational needs. So under the old system there was a significant change in numbers, up by 57% for primary age pupils and 96% for secondary age pupils between 1999 and 2001.

After allowing for the artificial boost that accompanied the change in data collection methods, percentage increases of 52% and 99% respectively between 2002 and 2005 continue to suggest a steady increase in numbers year on year.

The increases are significant and merit further investigation. But to argue for six-fold and four-fold increases based on these statistics, as happened in the Scotsman, is wrong. We expect the anti-MMR camp to misrepresent the facts to bolster their case. But when they are aided and abetted by a prestigious newspaper like the Scotsman that is a cause for concern.

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7 thoughts on “Autism in Scotland’s Schools.

  1. Hi Mike
    I assure you that I am not anti vaccine. I survived measles ( at one year old) after having near a meningitis. Therefore I am very conscious about vaccine importance in general. I hope you understand my post as an idea to discuss, having in mind – always- that autistic children are genetically different and therefore their reactions -because of different brain structure and biochemistry- prenatally and genetically related- are different than NT.
    With this idea in mind, I tried to see if the vaccination schedule in Scotland, UK and USA are different, how and if there is some possibility of explanation – or at least a formulation of a coherent idea- of the similar trends found in ASD in different countries without/with thimerosal or not.
    You can find here
    http://www.hebs.scot.nhs.uk/healthservice/general/pub_fulldoc.cfm?TxtTCode=1264&TY=res
    the schedule for Scotland
    here for UK
    http://www.immunisation.org.uk/article.php?id=97
    and here for USA
    http://www.cdc.gov/nip/recs/child-schedule_sp.pdf
    In UK
    -children receive the quintuple vaccine at 2,3 and 4 months, and also men C vaccine
    -At 13 months they receive the MMR and between 3 y4 to 5 years the booster of MMR and the quintuple vaccine
    There was a recent change in the immunisatioin schedule
    2 months DTaP/IPV/Hib + pneumococcal vaccine

    3 months DTaP/IPV/Hib + MenC vaccine

    4 months DTaP/IPV/Hib + MenC + pneumococcal vaccine

    12 months Hib/Men C

    13 months MMR + pneumococcal vaccine

    DTaP/IPV/Hib is a single vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Hib.

    MenC protects against meningitis C

    Hib/ MenC is a combined vaccine protecting against Hib and Meningitis C
    Also there is available the varicella vaccine
    In USA, the vaccination schedule includes at 2, 4 and 6 months the DtaP, HiB and IPV and now including the PCV, plus the flu, ALL before the year. Look also at the HepB vaccine and how there are boosters before the 1.5 years. Also there is the HepA vaccine, the MMR and varicella, all before the 1.5 years.

    I wonder about the impact of this in genetically susceptible children, that there are a lot of published papers concerned about.
    I wonder if a COMPENSATION of effects because the doses are given in UK more frequently than in the case of USA can not have a strong effect, more immunological than toxicological. Therefore the crowded schedule for me
    Can COMPENSATE the lack of thimerosal in terms of overall insult for susceptible children?
    Who has studied autistic children and clinical effects in autistic children of vaccination- complete schedule- under these ideas? Vaccine trials are done for healthy, NT people.
    I do not consider vaccines as a potential cause of., I wonder if they can be an insult doing things worse, not as causes of, but as insults because of altered previous biochemistry, immune systems-even unknown- that the children are born with.
    Therefore I wonder, if in 1999 a new vaccine was introduced in Scotland what if a combination of factors are collaborating in this increase, especially in susceptible children, considering all the social and political changes in assistance, services and more awareness?
    What do you think?
    Sincerely
    María Luján

  2. María: The problem I see with your reasoning is that, if changes in the vaccination schedule were to affect autism rates, you’d expect to see sharp changes in prevalence graphs. In reality what we see are smooth natural changes.

  3. Hi Joseph
    We do not know how changes will be ( or could be), especially because of individual impact and I am talking about the accumulation of insults. You are supposing that the insult is from ONE vaccine in particular I am talking about Combination and accumulation of. I am analyzing your graph of autism population and autism with no MR since 92 to 05, taking into account the modification of schedules. I will send to you ASAP a proposal of discussion, if you are interested about. Please let me know.
    About natural changes, and higher awareness, is part of the increase for me , but my point is you have no evidence that is the ONLY collaborator to the increase, (beyond social and political assignacion of services changes).
    Ma Luján

  4. Hi Joseph
    We do not know how changes will be ( or could be), especially because of individual impact and I am talking about the accumulation of insults. You are supposing that the insult is from ONE vaccine in particular I am talking about Combination and accumulation of. I am analyzing your graph of autism population and autism with no MR since 92 to 05, taking into account the modification of schedules. I will send to you ASAP a proposal of discussion, if you are interested about. Please let me know.
    About natural changes, and higher awareness, is part of the increase for me , but my point is you have no evidence that is the ONLY collaborator to the increase, (beyond social and political assignacion of services changes).
    I do think that this is part of the point, but because the real causes of autism beyond genetics are under discussion, this must be considered with high tech high procedures high quality science for me.
    Ma Luján

  5. Sure María, I’ll take a look.

    About natural changes, and higher awareness, is part of the increase for me , but my point is you have no evidence that is the ONLY collaborator to the increase

    No, but I have some indications. First, if you look at just 2 CA quarters, you’ll see that a small increase in prevalence matches a small drop in severity. Similarly, if you look at a long span of many years, a large increase in prevalence matches a large drop in severity. When prevalence is stable, I expect severity to be stable as well. The data of regional differences is also consistent with this.

  6. Hi Joseph
    You say
    Similarly, if you look at a long span of many years, a large increase in prevalence matches a large drop in severity.
    The point for me are the biomarkers of severity. If MR is one, I think that it could be not very informative. There are no clinical screening of immune functioni, GI issues and others. How do you know if there is a drop of severity of these conditions?
    Sincerely
    María Luján

  7. Pingback: Action For Autism » Blog Archive » New Phase Autism?

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