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Pasadena: 50% increase in autism in 3 yrs; "experts attributed increase to greater awareness"

Aug 24, 2022, Pasadena Now: Local Experts Observe Rising Autism Rates Among Children And Teens
A study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics showed Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) among children and teens surge 50% from 2017 to 2020. This means that one in 30 kids is diagnosed with the disorder.
The study’s authors did not discuss potential causes for the rise but experts attributed the increase to greater awareness of the condition among parents and doctors. In Pasadena, the same trend is being observed by local experts.

Chief Clinical Officer Paula Pompa-Craven at Easterseals Southern California, which has a day services center in Pasadena, confirmed the increase of the number of individuals being diagnosed with autism in recent years.

“The incidence of autism spectrum disorder has increased and we are continuing to experience an increase in referrals. They have not slowed down and have actually increased in recent months.” Pompa-Craven said.

According to her, in the past year, referrals for services have increased over 60% in some months.

Although all ages are referred to Easterseals, the highest group fall into the 5-18 year old range, according to Pompa-Craven. Also, there are increased numbers of individuals with dual or multiple diagnoses.

Pompa-Craven believes the surge could be attributed to the “awareness about the symptoms and spectrum of autism.”

“There are more adults coming forward who have learned more about the characteristics of autism and are coming forward for evaluation. Because we do not know of the cause for autism, it is hard to determine what is leading to an increase,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) ASD is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain.

ASD begins before the age of 3 years and can last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. People with the condition may “behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.”…

“Anecdotally from my understanding is that we seem to be getting more referrals that are incoming with autism,” said Koester.

While the Center for Developing Kids has enough resources to care for those with ASD, Koester believes some kids are not getting services they need….

Rebecca Haussling, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at AbilityFirst said in 2021, the non-profit had served approximately 1,700 individuals. 42% have a developmental delay 27% have autism 18% have cerebral palsy. …

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