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This study is intended to enhance our understanding of the dramatic increase in autism prevalence rates across the United States. A robust national and multistate sample of children and youth (5–22 years of age) was gathered and analyzed, using visual and statistical analysis of autism eligibility over a 15‐ to 17‐year period. Although the impact of environmental or genetic influences cannot be entirely ruled out, we identified significant shifts in eligibility trends that substantially contribute to the remarkable increase in autism prevalence. Assessment procedures and criteria for autism have sustained an indelible influence from this diagnostic migration, which has had a lasting impact on public schools. We use this information to provide meaningful implications for practicing psychology in the schools.


This is the accepted version of the following article:

Cardinal, DN, Griffiths, AJ, Maupin, ZD, & Fraumeni‐McBride, J. (2020). An investigation of increased rates of autism in U.S. public schools. Psychology in the Schools.

which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Peer Reviewed






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