The CDC came out with some pretty startling statistics Thursday — saying that the number of children who have autism has jumped 30 percent over the past few years.
The percentage now stands at one child in 68 has some form of autism. That’s compared to a one in 88 estimate in 2010.
One key in that sentence is the word “estimate.”
Researchers looked at the medical records of 8-year-old kids in 11 states, and did some calculations to raise the numbers across the board.
Now that’s not to say the numbers aren’t reliable — they are. It’s the “why” that is probably the most important thing to look at here.
The CDC cites two reasons for the jump:
1. Increased awareness and better diagnosis
2. Broader number of children included under the umbrella term “autism.” That’s because autism is not one single disorder, but instead a range of several clinical pictures. With today’s analysis, one group that wasn’t always included in the definition and calculations is Asperger’s Syndrome — typically a milder form of autistic behaviors. More and more highly intelligent children with “different” personalities are now included in the calculations as well.
So, there truly has not been an explosion of autism — just better diagnosis and a broader definition. Also, there is NO epidemic caused by environmental causes, vaccines, or other myths that scare parents and hinder proper treatment.
And it’s a good thing to have a broader definition and more awareness, since many children with autism disorders do very well with treatment — especially when it is diagnosed early.
That’s why pediatricians and family doctors should be screening for autism before age 2, and why parents should never hesitate at any age to talk to the doctor about milestones and behaviors that just don’t seem right. In other words, don’t be shy!
If you would like more info on today’s research, as well as solid info on autism, here are some good resources: