Report Shows More Children Are Being Diagnosed With Autism

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — New numbers released this week show more and more children are being diagnosed with autism. It’s 30 percent higher than it was two years ago.

Gigi Barnett explains doctors are identifying patients at younger ages.

Burke Manuel is a good student–bright, inquisitive and autistic. Doctors diagnosed him at two. Now, years later, intensive therapy is working.

“He has more words than he has ever had,” said his mother, Lisa Manuel.

New figures recently released from the Centers for Disease Control show that doctors are diagnosing more children with the disorder.

“The numbers tell us that autism is not a rare disorder and that we have to be on our toes in terms of identifying this in children,” said Dr. Rebecca Landa, Director Of Kennedy Krieger’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

For children with autism, communicating is a challenge and social situations are difficult. In 2002, doctors diagnosed 1 in every 150 children born in the U.S. In 2012, that number jumped to 1 in 88. Now it’s at 1 in every 68 children.

Smarter diagnosis is one reason for the trend, but so is early detection.

“We can identify autism by two years of age and the symptoms are a bit subtler than in children who are older,” Landa said.

Landa says boys are five times more likely to have autism and parents can be the first to spot the signs. Autism is also more likely in children who have siblings with it.

“Anytime there’s a family history of autism or there’s already a child in the family with autism, we want to have special efforts to make sure that we’re screening and monitoring the development of the younger siblings,” said Landa.

The CDC based its findings on health and school records of children in 11 states. Maryland was one.

The state with the most children diagnosed with autism is New Jersey. Alabama had the least.

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