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Houghton, MI: Call for autism awareness; "no single known cause" for increase

April 7, 2022, Houghton, (MI) Mining Gazette: As Autism prevalence increases, so must awareness

April is Autism Awareness Month. The importance of that is because the number of children diagnosed with autism continues to increase. Learning more about the disorder and raising awareness becomes increasingly important. According to the South Louisiana Medical Associates, the rate of autism is rising, and it is more important than ever tha individuals and families affected by autism receive sufficient support and services. While it is unclear what exactly has caused the uptick in official autism diagnoses, the Autism Society of America is committed to using all available scientific knowledge to address the growing needs of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Autism Society of America reports that the prevalence of autism in the United States has risen from 1 in 125 children in 2010 to 1 in 54 in 2020. In 2000, the prevalence was 1 in 150. According to the most recent data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism affects one in 59 individuals, is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, and is more commonly diagnosed in boys. In a Dec. 2, 2021, press release the CDC updated their earlier statistical statement, saying: One in 44 (2.3%) 8-year-old children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder according to an analysis of 2018 data published in CDC’s (December, 2018, weekly) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Surveillance Summaries. This is higher than the previous estimate published in March 2020, which found a prevalence of 1 in 54 (1.9%) 8-year-old children. The 2018 data come from 11 communities in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) network. “The substantial progress in early identification is good news because the earlier that children are identified with autism, the sooner they can be connected to services and support,” said Karen Remley, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “Accessing these services at younger ages can help children do better in school and have a better quality of life.”… The Autism Society states that there is no single known cause of autism, nor is there a scientific conclusion as to why the incidence of autism is increasing. However, scientists report that there are likely many causes for multiple types of ASD, as well as many different factors that make a child more likely to have autism, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors. Most scientists agree that genes are also one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop ASD. … The findings and recommendations represent a synthesis and prioritization of goals with a primary focus on evidence-based practices and system and service coordination that brings together governmental agencies and private organizations. Expanding capacity to address the challenges presented by a rapidly growing ASD population does not mean the creation of a separate system of care specific to ASD but rather increasing the knowledge, coordination, and capacity of current systems in concert with focused attention on the specific needs of individuals with ASD.

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