'Scary' Jump in Autism Rates May Not Be All Bad News

This Just In 7

autismAs if the mystery that shrouds the autism diagnosis process wasn't scary enough, there's some fresh news on the autism front that will scare the pants off of you. The CDC has issued a new report, and the numbers of kids on the spectrum just jumped. Again. Big time!

We've gone from 1 in every 110 kids falling somewhere on the autism spectrum to 1 in 88 8-year-olds with an autism diagnosis. That's a 23 percent jump, people! And we still have no real clue what is doing this to our kids!? And yet ... there's good news for parents, if you know where to look.

I know that doesn't seem true right now. We have an epidemic on our hands. Go ahead and call me an alarmist, but numbers don't lie.

There are now more children being diagnosed with autism than there are babies being born with a congenital heart defect -- the number one birth defect in America. There are more kids with autism than there are kids with cancer! And all gets scarier when you consider the total jump in the number of 8-year-olds on the spectrum is up 78 percent in the past decade (in 2000 and 2002, the CDC estimated there were just 1 in 150 kids on the spectrum).

So how can we parents sleep at night? We can cling to the good news right there in that report. First, and foremost, this isn't necessarily a rise in kids developing autism so much as it is better diagnosis. That means kids who were falling through the cracks before are getting the services that can make a major difference for kids on the autism spectrum.

And just as important: the more people who have a certain disease, the more attention it gets. Today's report has already elicited demands from some major organizations with influence in Washington -- including the Environmental Working Group -- to push Congress to pour more money into research to help parents find answers. Because these kids, and their parents, need our help. And the more they get, the better our kids will be. 

How many kids do you know on the autism spectrum?


Image via Horia Varlan/Flickr



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Lesli... Leslie_ABS

We do have an epidemic on our hands and yet the amount of money that goes into finding out why and treating the children is not on par with the seriousness of the situation. My soon-to-be ten year old nephew is going to need lifelong assistance and just some help to be able to contribute and have a life and there are few to no adult autism services. This needs to be taken seriously and it's not being taken seriously enough. 

Becky Cranick

I heartly agree with this. I have a sister who is 27. And she has a lot of the symptoms of someone with autism. But, she slipped through the cracks. She is planning to go and get tested in the near future; but she could have gotten help when she was younger when it would have helped more. I also have a son, who was diagnosed at age three with autism, and in two years of therapy, the differance in him is night at day. I Hope that more people are diagnosed and stop slipping through the cracks......

nonmember avatar Ben mcdougall

I have 5 kids 4 on the spectrum my kids have these diagnoses from their genes me and my wife have fun but we love them all to bits thanks

LAmom318 LAmom318

I teach a class for students with severe autism at a public school, and there are two other classes for students with Autism in my hall.  We have classes for students who require self contained minutes all over our school district at various schools, and the numbers are increasing so much that they are wanting to add more classes to be able to successfully address the unique needs of these students. 

LAmom318 LAmom318

Before I started teaching the class for students with Autism, I didn't know what severe autism looked like. I am going to guess that many of the people reading these articles about the increase in numbers are picturing kids who are a little quirky and super smart. That is not the issue. The big deal is that there is an increase in children who are unresponsive to their name, nonverbal, show no awareness of being wet or soiled even at age 10, no social skills, no desire to be socially active, no desire to complete any work that isn't preferred, and no understanding of why learning is relevent. There is a lot of spontaneous screaming and echolalic behaviors

LAmom318 LAmom318

 There is a rise in the population of children who are going to need long term care when they get out of the school system and their parents are unable to take care of them alone. Right now, it's not so hard to deal with a 7 year old kicking or hitting you, but that kid is going to be 20 one day and be stronger than their parent. As a teacher, it is difficult to help manage the behavior problems such as kicking when the strategies aren't carried out at home. This is the Autism that is on the rise....The students who require extensive OT, APE, Speech, and other care and who's parents are draining their savings to take their kids to after school ABA therapy and MORE OT, APE, and Speech....The spectrum is broad, I know, but I am tired of people saying things like, "The parents just want money so they have their kid diagnosed with Autism." If you knew what severe Autism looked like, you would know that there is no way a young child could pretend to have it.

Disney17 Disney17

Seems like everyone has some sort of autistic quality nowadays.

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