DENVER (CBS4) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of children reported with autism continues to increase.
New figures estimate one in every 68 children have autism spectrum disorder in the U.S., up 30 percent over the last few years.
“By a year and a half he was not speaking. He had never called me ‘ma.’ He had never said ‘mama,’ never said ‘dada.’ He had no words whatsoever and I knew that something was wrong,” said Johanna Burke, whose son has autism.
“We are not sure if it’s just better identification or if that reflects a true increase,” said. Dr. Tista Gosh, Colorado’s director of disease control.
Gosh says while the report shows a small increase it also highlights a need for more research.
“We need to be looking at this further. What we need to understand further is why children are not getting services early enough,” Gosh said.
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In Colorado alone nearly half of 8-year-olds who have autism were diagnosed after the age of 3.
Gosh says the earlier parents can identify a developmental issue the better.
“It could be motor milestones, like crawling, walking by a certain age. It could be communication milestones — cooing, babbling, saying their first word; social milestones, like looking at people in the eyes, engaging with others,” Gosh said. “There are a variety of milestones that babies should be meeting by a certain time period and you should be able to tell fairly early on.”
The CDC has a number of free resources that parents can use to help track their child’s development on their website. Visit cdc.gov/milestones for more information.