1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A new report reveals the prevalence of autism has gone up by 30-percent in just two years time.

Its symptoms range from being socially awkward, to unable to communicate altogether. It’s autism spectrum disorder, and more kids are being diagnosed today than ever before.

According to the latest research from the CDC, as many as one in 68 children today has a diagnosis within the autism spectrum. Part of that increased prevalence may be because of better detection today, but experts still aren’t sure why those rates continue to increase so fast.

Certain behaviors — difficulty paying attention, or obsessive compulsive qualities — might point to the disorder, but there’s room for interpretation.

“In other conditions we may have a true test that can confirm and define it. Here there’s subjectivity, there’s observation. None of which are as precise as we want them to be,” said Dr. Lawrence Kaplan, director of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics at Baystate Medical Center.

But the biggest mystery of all: what causes it? Dr. Lawrence Kaplan, told 22News one theory suggests there’s a single gene with a tendency toward autism; but the general belief is that it’s a biologically based disorder, with some relationship to the prefrontal cortex region of the brain.

“Probably does involve some abnormality in the formation of language or concepts of language. Attaching meaning to words, attaching images to a word.” Dr. Kaplan added.

Every child behaves differently though, and certain missed milestones don’t necessarily mean disability. If there is a benefit to more children being diagnosed, it’s more resources. Autism awareness has fostered significant improvements in services and therapy.

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