Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blogging Lovaas, 3

Second page (p. xiv)

Estimates of the frequency of autism have risen in recent years; reports place the prevalence as high as 1 in 500 births. The prevalence of PDD and Asberger’s syndrome is higher still. Then comes the prognosis: little or nothing can be done about the problem; only 5 out of every 100 children with autism will be able to live outside of institutions or without custodial care.


Well, there are the statistics; There are, of course, other and even higher estimates; one claim is 1 in every 166, though that may cover more of the spectrum - if PDD and Asbergers are as high or higher than autism, that’s 3 in 500 or 1 in 166. In any case, let’s go with the one in 500 for a little. If 95% of those are institutionalized that’s 95 in 50,000.
If the population of the USA is, for ease of calculation, 250 million, that’s 500,000 people with autism, of whom 475,000 would be institutionalized (or in custodial care). Let’s look at the figures of people in institutions in the 2000 census (http://aspe.os.dhhs.gov/daltcp/reports/rn11.htm#TABLE2).

TABLE 2: NUMBER OF PERSONS WITH LONG-TERM CARE NEEDS IN THE COMMUNITY AND IN INSTITUTIONS: 1990 (in thousands)
Under Age 18 Age 18-64 Age 65+ Total
Total 262 5,091 7,330 12,683
Community 170 4,382 5,688 10,240
Institutions 92 709 1,642 2,443
-Nursing Homes 1 181 1,590 1,772
-Homes for Physically Handicapped 1 9* --- 10
-ICF/MRs 20 118 9 147
-Other MR Facilities 26 109 7 142
-Child Welfare MR Children 14 --- --- 14
- Mentally Ill Facilities 30 144 30 204
- Correctional Facilities N/A 119 3 122
- Homeless Shelter/Street N/A 29 3 32
SOURCE: 1990 SIPP; 1989 NHIS; 1987 NMES; 1990 Decennial Census; CMHS/SAMHA, DHHS; Lakin.
NOTE: People in other institutions/group quarters, e.g., crews on ships, are not included.
• Includes ages 18+.

That is, the total number of people institutionalised for all diagnoses of mental retardation and mental illness is 507,000. For Lovaas’ estimates to be true, 94% of all institutionalised persons would need to be autistic. This seems unlikely.

This will later prove significant when Lovaas is defending the cost-effectiveness of his methods.

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