Autism awareness

One in 68 children has autism

A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 30 percent increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder from 2008 to 2011.

"Autism and autism spectrum disorders are disorders of brain development," explained Dr. Ryan Grimm, pediatrician at Community Physician Network. "They're characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors."

The CDC reviewed data from health and school records in 11 states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin. Researchers focused on children who were eight years old—the condition is most often diagnosed by that age—and identified children who met the criteria for having autism, even if they had not yet been diagnosed. It was then calculated how common autism was in each state and overall.

While the study was not done in all 50 states, the data can be used to promote early identification, guide research, and inform parents so that children with ASD and their families get the help they need. 

Parents are encouraged to follow their child's development and look for them to meet important milestones. Physicians will also look for early signs and symptoms of autism at well exams.

"All children should be screened for autism at the 18 and 24 month well child visits," said Grimm. "If parents are concerned that their child is exhibiting signs of autism they should schedule an appointment with a board certified pediatrician for further evaluation."

Visit the Autism Speaks website for more information about autism and how it is diagnosed.

Source: CDC