Earlier this week, I wrote about the mystery of why students with disabilities have dwindled in San Diego Unified. School district officials counted roughly 1,600 fewer special education students this December than three years ago. But some kinds of disabilities are actually becoming more common while others drop.

Which ones? My fabulous coworker Keegan Kyle came to the rescue with this great graphic. It shows which categories of disabilities have grown larger and which have dropped:

As my article mentioned, these patterns are interesting because some of the disabilities with the biggest drops are the same ones that have been tagged in San Diego for unusually high numbers of minority students, such as emotional disturbance and speech impairments. Yet autism is way up:

Similar trends are happening across the state, but the reasons are just as murky. The Lucile Packard Foundation recently asked the public to help it understand why autism is up while learning disabilities are down. One theory is that changes in school finance made it less advantageous to identify kids with learning disabilities. But researchers are still searching for answers. And so is San Diego Unified.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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