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(UK) British Medical Journal: "Are autistic dependent becoming more numerous than aged?"

July 5, 2019, British Medical Journal: Social care: Are the autistic dependent becoming more numerous than the aged? Have we sounded the true depth of the problem [1]? Recent reports suggest not. This is from an article about parents suing the government over Special Educational Needs Funding (SEND) [2]: "Jenni Richards QC, for the families, told the court during a hearing on Wednesday that there was “clear and incontrovertible evidence” of a “substantial national shortfall” in funding...She said the figures showed there were 25,540 young people aged 16-25 in January 2015 with a statement or Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, which had increased to 84,260 by January 2018...Government lawyers said the increase in demand was recognised by the ministers and that Mr Hinds had “made it clear” that High Needs would be one of his priorities ahead of the 2019 Spending Review." Another report in the Independent states [3]: "Analysis from the National Education Union this week revealed that more than 8,000 young people with SEND are awaiting provision for a school place." Just two years ago I wrote in these columns about a rise of "1,710 in 2016 to 4,050 this year" remarking [4]: "What might not be immediately obvious is that this not only a very large rise it is also a very large number. A similar rise next year would give an above 1% figure for all children entering the education system being on a waiting list for Special Educational Needs places, on top of those who are being accommodated within an already stretched system." So, this figure has now doubled to perhaps to the equivalent of 1.3% of all children now entering the system. It should also be said that despite the many funding disputes government has not stood still: I read almost daily in the British mainstream media of new special needs facilities being opened amid local celebrations but the situation is apparently completely out of control, and it is only secondarily a problem funding - it is primarily a problem of mushrooming incidence. Much of this is to do with autism. This year, for instance, the Northern Ireland census of ASD in schools disclosed that the rate had risen from an already staggering 2.9 to 3.3% [5]: this is the figure for the total school population not just the intake. The Department of Health and Social Care remain silent on the causes of this epidemic set to engulf us all and cause endless human misery [6]. I believe they have some explaining to do.
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