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Mishawaka, IN: We're good with more and more autism going on forever

June 13, 2024, WSBT22, Mishawaka, IN: Why are autism diagnosis rates rising?

Autism diagnosis rates are up. But why?

According to Scientific Autism diagnosis rates have been rising since researchers began tracking them more closely starting in 2000.

It's hard to point the exact reason but various professionals and studies have concluded there's more awareness and acceptance on this topic using a diagnosis as a way to learn instead of label.

In 2017 the Centers for Disease Control estimated 1 in every 68 children were on the autism spectrum.

The numbers this year indicate 1 in 36 children are on the autism spectrum.

Professionals including Britany Melton with Journey's Autism Center in Mishawaka say they have seen an increase over the years.

Britany Melton, Journey’s Autism Center Director of Research and Training

"There is such an increased awareness, and an increased or better understanding of what autism is, less fear around the diagnosis. So, we don't know if there's an actual increase, or if people are just more okay with saying, I think my child has autism," said Melton.

In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended all children between 18 and 24 months be screened for autism during routine pediatric visits.

Although there's no objective test, healthcare professionals better understand some signs.

But mainly, Melton says there is less negativity surrounding Autism in recent years.

"Parents and families were a little hesitant to get the diagnosis. They would say, oh, they'll grow out of it, or just a phase or something like that or it's not autism, it's something different. And now people kind of have realized that the stigma is not, it's not something to shy away from really," said Melton.

Melton says the earlier the better when it comes to reaching a diagnosis.

So, if you have any doubts or questions, even a small one, the best thing you can do is contact your pediatrician.

"And there's very few providers who diagnose over the certain ages. So, it gets harder and harder as they get older and older. So, again, that's another reason why doctors and professionals like myself push. If you think something's going on younger, just go talk to your doctor.," said Melton.

Autism is a spectrum coming in all shapes and sizes

Professionals ask parents to keep track of their children following normal developmental patterns and also ask healthcare professionals for screening regardless of the age.



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