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Spartanburg, SC: "As ratio of children ...with autism climbs..."; CDC has 'great concern'

Jan 27, 2019, Spartanburg (SC) Go Upstate: As ratio of children diagnosed with autism climbs, one Spartanburg agency hopes to expand services Twenty-five years ago, Lisa Lane knew little about autism, and less about how it would impact her own life. Today, the organization she co-founded and directs with Susan Sachs — the Project HOPE Foundation — provides a lifeline for Upstate families searching for answers in the wake of an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Launched as a specialized effort in 1997 as Lane and Sachs were seeking therapy for their young children, Project HOPE Foundation has grown into a multi-county clinic serving families with loved ones who have autism across a continuum of services and therapies from birth through early adulthood. They’ve been on the move in recent years, adding a Spartanburg location at 200 Elford Court just a year ago to help Hub City residents better access their services. And now the group plans to unveil a new location in Landrum later this year. For Lane, it’s just the latest step in a journey that began in 1996 when her then-18-month-old son Colby began exhibiting symptoms that left her searching for answers. Following her intuition, she attended an Upstate autism conference at Converse College. Just 20 minutes spent listening to the stories of other families left her convinced. “I said, ‘Oh God, he’s got autism,’” Lane said. “I heard the same things again and again, and I just knew.” When her son was later formally diagnosed, Lane said she began to search for treatment and therapy options for Colby. She found little in the way of answers and nearly no local treatment options. “It was terrifying,” Lane said. “You want reassurance and guidance, and there just wasn’t much to be had at the time.” … Since Colby’s diagnosis, the ratio of children who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum has climbed to about 1 in 59, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. According to that report, “There is great concern that the rates of autism have been increasing in recent decades without full explanation as to why,” though the agency said scientists believe that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. … Lane said the Upstate has made major strides over the past two decades in helping families cope with autism spectrum disorder, but she said much work remains. The price of intensive therapies like ABA can be cost prohibitive to many families, and the state of the insurance industry — including Medicaid — may have led to situations where wait times for some services can stretch into years. Emory said many businesses are beginning to adapt to families with someone with autism spectrum disorder by offering sensory-friendly services and options. Think quieter waiting rooms and lower-stress activities, she said . …
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