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Loudoun, VA: 12% increase in ASD in 2 yrs; 'It's fascinating' says intervention therapist

Jan 12, 2022, Loudoun (VA) Now: Families Grapple with Growing Autism Rates Amid Pandemic https://loudounnow.com/2022/01/12/families-grapple-with-growing-autism-rates-amid-pandemic/

The rate of Autism Spectrum Disorders diagnoses climbed by more than 12% in two years according to the latest CDC report released last month, and Loudoun families are navigating therapies and interventions at a time when child development already is stunted by pandemic-related isolation…. In December, the CDC announced that data collected from 2018 found that one in 44 8-year-old children in the U.S. has an ASD diagnosis, up from one in 54 in 2016. The demand for therapies and services, like many early-childhood fields, is high. According to Johanna Van Doren-Jackson, senior manager for Loudoun County’s early intervention program, Infant and Toddler Connection, referral rates from pediatricians are through the roof. … “We have had an increase in referrals for children since probably March of 2021. Our numbers dropped in the beginning of the pandemic,” Van Doren-Jackson said. “I think a lot of children were missing those well-child checks. It seems like around the one-year mark of the pandemic there was a deep breath of ‘OK, I need to call about this.’” While many parents speculate that their children are socially stunted because of pandemic-era isolation, there is no consensus among experts as to why ASD rates are burgeoning among youth. “It’s fascinating,” Van Doren-Jackson said. “The field has changed. It was about parenting. Now it’s seen as possibly genetic.”…