California’s Regional Centers See Big Jump in Clients With Autism
From 1987 to 2007, the number of people with autism receiving services at state-funded regional centers increased by nearly 1,200%, jumping from 2,701 to 34,656, according to a study the California Department of Developmental Services released this week, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
The increase in autism cases likely will have significant implications for California, particularly because the number of adults with autism who receive services at regional centers is projected to continue to increase.
Moreover, the findings come as the state is slated to cut $100 million from the regional center system's budget in fiscal year 2009-1010.
The study indicates that 6,000 adults with autism currently receive services at regional centers and an additional 4,000 autistic teenagers likely will seek services from the centers in the next five years as they transition to adulthood.
By 2018, the study projects that there will be more than 19,000 adults with autism in California.
Rick Rollens, co-founder of the Medical Investigation of Neurological Disorders Institute at UC-Davis and the father of an autistic child, said the projected increases underscore the need for the state to develop the infrastructure to provide services to people with autism.
The study includes only people with autism who seek services through California's 21 regional centers, likely about 75% to 80% of people with autism in the state.In addition, the study focused on people with classic autism and generally excluded people with other autistic spectrum disorders, such as Asperger's syndrome and Rett's disorder (Kleffman, San Jose Mercury News, 5/6). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.