Freeport, PA: Autism numbers continue to rise; it's now 2% of students

May 14, Pittsburgh Tribune: Increase in autistic students at Freeport Area mirrors national trend Eight years ago there were about six students who had some form of Autism at Freeport Area School District.

Now, 20 students — all with a diagnosis that falls along the Autism Spectrum — are receiving help from teachers in a support classroom or in regular classes, said the district's special services coordinator Richard Burns. … A 2014 state Department of Public Welfare (now Department of Human Services) survey only published in April said an estimated 55,800 people were receiving services in the state. But the state report acknowledges that count was “a significant undercount” because it only counts people getting state services and the number doesn't include adults.“Adults with autism are likely among the most undercounted in an administrative census since there is a lack of services to support them, or they may be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed,” according to the survey. … Meanwhile, the Department of Education is watching an increase. “In 2008, approximately 0.8 percent of the school enrollment population identified with autism. It has steadily and incrementally grown over the last ten years. As of 2017-2018, 1.9 percent of the total school enrollment is identified with autism,” said DOE spokeswoman Nicole Reigelman. “While autism's prevalence in Pennsylvania schools has doubled over ten years, from an overall perspective, the percentage of students with autism is less than 2 percent of the total school enrollment in grades kindergarten to 12,” she said. Burns said Freeport Area only has Autism classes at the elementary level.