Interesting article in Discover Magazine about autism. The article gives the history of autism and how until recently it was diagnosed as other things.
The article argues that autism has probably not become more common in recent years - what has changed is how we identify and count the people stricken with it. The rate of 1 in 88 children or 1% of the population may be pretty static throughout history but we are no longer calling those people retarded, insane or schizophrenic. They are now classified as autistic.
It is important to understand the history so that circumstantial causes are not blamed. We know frighteningly little about autism. The resources are very limited so it is important to find true root causes and not go down wrong paths.
Like I said - very interesting article. I'll probably have to read it a couple more times to grasp the true significance.