The number of children diagnosed with autism continues to grow dramatically in the United States according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports CNN. The latest estimate is that 1 in 88 children have some form of autism spectrum disorder. This is a 78 percent increase in comparison to a decade ago, when the autism estimate was 1 in 150 children.
The CDC based these figures on surveillance reports from its Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, which counts the number of 8-year-olds with autism in approximately a dozen communities across the country every two years. Mark Roithmayr, president of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, tells CNN that the steady rise of autism could be because of "better diagnosis, broader diagnosis, better awareness, and roughly 50% of 'We don't know.’”
Early recognition of the signs of autism is vital, as research shows that children benefit greatly from early intervention, such as medications, behavioral therapy, or additional help in school. However, the CDC report shows that most children were only diagnosed with autism between the ages of four and five—a time when a child's brain is already more developed and harder to change. The CDC is working with the Academy of American Pediatrics to recommend that children get screened for autism between 18 months and 24 months.
Do you have a child with autism? How do you feel about these new numbers?