The prevalence of autism has increased precipitously—roughly 10-fold in the past 40 years—yet no one knows exactly what caused this dramatic rise. Using a large and representative dataset that spans the California birth cohorts from 1992 through 2000, we examine individual and community resources associated with the likelihood of an autism diagnosis over time. This allows us to identify key social factors that have contributed to increased autism prevalence. While individual-level factors, such as birth weight and parental education, have had a fairly constant effect on likelihood of diagnosis over time, we find that community-The researchers conclude that the epidemic is the result of a greater probability of being diagnosed, and that until recently, diagnosis depended heavily on having money and living in better-off communities where the focus on autism began. Social class factors have been more important for less severe cases of autism where diagnosis was less obvious.
level resources drive increased prevalence.
Other factors that are associated with a greater risk: higher parental education, low birth weight, being male (of course), being first-born, having older parents, and not being on Medi-Cal.
I find it odd that race and ethnicity were not examined. It's a California sample, you're focusing on social class, and you don't control for race and Hispanicity? Maybe it doesn't matter, but they don't seem to address it. Being on Medi-Cal matters, and it is correlated with NAMishness. And of course there is no mention of the possibility that social class might be associated with genes implicated in autism. Everyone just knows that social class has nothing whatsoever to do with genes. It's the same old story that class reflects privilege and access and nothing more.