Number of children identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder cont - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Number of children identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder continues to rise

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Doctors and experts on autism say an increased awareness on the neurological disorder is one reason more children are being diagnosed.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new numbers estimating 1 in 68 U.S. children have Autism Spectrum Disorder, which is a 30 percent increase from the last estimate of 1 in 88 U.S. children.

Much of the increase is believed to be from a cultural and medical shift, with doctors diagnosing autism more frequently and at an earlier age.

According to the CDC, Autism Spectrum Disorder is almost five times more common among boys than girls. White children are more likely to be identified with autism than Black or Hispanic children. And, most children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are still not diagnosed until after age 4, even though Autism Spectrum Disorder can be diagnosed as early as age 2.

"It manifests in different symptoms depending on where you're at on the Autism Spectrum," said Kim Thomas, president of the SC Autism Society. "It can be anywhere from social delays to communication skill delays like being non-verbal, having just a few words and not necessarily having actual conversation skills."

Thomas said therapy sessions for children with autism early on can greatly improve their quality of life.

"No one child is alike, or no one adult is alike that's affected by autism," Thomas said. "The way you treat one person with autism may not be the way you treat somebody else. It's definitely a very individualized thing that affects people in vast different ways."

In South Carolina, nearly 70,000 people are living with some form of autism.

For more information about Autism Spectrum Disorder, visit

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