The second thing that jumped out at me is the huge statistical difference between white kids (much higher rates) and black kids (much lower rates).
The combination of these two -- coupled with my own experience in dealing with friends who have young children -- tells me that there's a lot of monkeying around with the numbers and (in some cases) even outright fraud going on. In a state like New Jersey you have a situation where a lot of parties -- parents, medical professionals, the pharmaceutical industry, and school districts, for example -- have a vested interest in diagnosing as many kids with "disorders" as humanly possible. In New Jersey, a kid who is diagnosed with this kind of "disorder" is provided special instructional arrangements in school (maybe even including one-on-one tutoring). And the local school district qualifies for all kinds of additional state aid to deal with all these "disordered" kids.
This is why I suspect the explosion in ASD is largely a suburban phenomenon. For many parents who have ambitions for their kids that border on pathological, ASD is a perfect "disorder" because it's the type of disorder that can get little Freddie plenty of extra medical and educational attention ... but will never be diagnosed as a disorder dangerous enough to have him institutionalized.
And are Eric Holder and Chris Christie going to bust up these criminal schemes? No, of course not.
The statistical formulas can always be fudged for money. It starts with samples. Who is being tested, how, and who is going to do the assessment of the results. The one looking for something will see what might not be there. We all do it. just search for “flawed statistics.” Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, just that not as many people should be included.
A big problem is with initial research and the almighty grants. Just read that there are 20,000 tests created every year. BIG money for universities.
I was just thinking last night that basic statistical analysis (bell curve) may in itself be flawed. The originator was also the founder of eugenics. Worrisome to me.