New autism statistics shows a rate of 1 in 68 children

April is Autism Awareness Month and organizations like Autism Society take this time to stress the importance of awareness and the need for continued research to find answers to this puzzling disorder. This past March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new statistics showing a 30% increase in the number of autism cases. This changes the statistic from 1 in 88 to 1 in 68 American children.

The CDC defines autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as “a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.”  They further explain that “a diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.”

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Causes use a puzzle piece to draw awareness for autism because the disorder itself is puzzling.  There’s no definitive test for diagnosing an ASD and no two cases are alike.  Doctors and researchers don’t know all the causes or risk factors for ASD but are learning that there could be many possible causes.

So why the sudden increase?  Researchers believe that there could be a few contributing factors including the broadening definition of autism spectrum disorders as well as more children being tested for diagnosis.

Increased awareness and support are incredibly important for this cause for many reasons.  Organizations raise money to help fund further research and develop better treatment plans.  It helps people whose lives aren’t touched by autism to better understand the disorder so they can help support families living with an ASD.  It also helps parents become aware of what behaviors may be an indicator of an ASD and encourage them to talk to their pediatrician.  Early intervention is important to how well treatment plans can help limit deficits.

For more information about Autism Spectrum Disorder, please visit the Autism Society website.

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