Healthcheck: Report shows higher U.S. autism rate

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March 27, 2014 2:24:52 PM PDT
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control now say the latest data shows that 1 in 68 kids have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The estimate used to be 1 in 88. The increase is almost 30%.

However, it may not mean the autism is affecting more kids. It could just mean we are getting better at identifying it.

Three-year-old Andrew is super shy, but he was willing to say "Cheese" when the Action Cam came by. His mother- Dana Piergiovanni - tells us that Andrew was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years old. She's a therapist at the Center for Autism so she wasn't surprised by the diagnosis.

"But as a parent it was devastating and heartbreaking and all of that," Piergiovanni said.

The government released new numbers showing autism affects more people than once thought. The spectrum of autism now includes 1 of every 68 people.

Doctor Joel Bregman, the medical director at the Center for Autism in Philadelphia, says much of the increase may be due to better detection. But he says this new information puts more emphasis on the need for more treatment programs. The earlier intervention starts, the more it will help.

"It is extremely important and it should not be surprising because very young children learn at a faster rate and more thoroughly," Dr. Joel Bregman said.

Still, teenagers and adults on the spectrum can also benefit from therapy. Dr. Bregman says he also hopes the new numbers will re-enforce the need for more research.

Dana Piergiovanni says her son Andrew has made great strides. She hopes he can attend regular kindergarten. But like many parents, she'd still like to know what causes autism.

"Even if there is no cure, why me? Why Andrew? Why our family? I would like an answer, sure."

We wanted to know what parents - especially of kids on the spectrum - have to say about these new numbers. So, this has been posted on Ali Gorman's Facebook Page.


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