Updated 10/05/2009 09:56 AM
Report Shows Spike In Autism Cases
There are far more children living with autism in the United States than previously thought, according to newly released numbers from the American Academy of Pediatrics. NY1's Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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Michele Montanez's 6-year-old son, Brandon, was diagnosed with autism just before his second birthday.
"Between the time we started the process and the time he was formerly diagnosed all the red flags started to crop up," Montanez said. "He started toe walking. He started turning things over to spin wheels. All those little things that you kind of associate with the typical child on the spectrum."
New numbers from the American Academy of Pediatrics show Brandon is part of a growing group of children identified with the disorder. According to the latest calculation, one out of every 91 children across the country have autism. Previous estimates had the rate at one out of every 150.
"This is a significant increase in a very short period of time. Ten to 15 years ago, the prevalence of autism in the United States was about one in every 2,500 children," said Peter Bell of Autism Speaks.
Autism consists of a spectrum of developmental disabilities from low to high-functioning. Over the years, the standards for disorders fitting into that range have broadened. It's unclear from the research if more children have autism now than the past, or if doctors are simply getting better at diagnosing it.
An additional finding the study does show is that children with autism are still not getting all the services they need. Families and advocates are hoping the prevalence rate points more resources in their direction in terms of research, education, medical intervention and long-term care.
"If the prevalence rate is truly one in 91 and autism is a lifelong disorder, the reality is for most of our kids they are going to grow up and they are going to need additional help," Montanez said. "We need services for them and that starts now. We can't wait until they all turn 21 and start worrying about what is going to happen later."
The Centers for Disease Control is expected to put out a study later this year that's expected to support the new numbers from the AAP.