New Report: 1 in 88 US kids have autism

By WKTV News and Associated Press

A new government report says autism is more common than previously thought, burdening as many as 1 in 88 children.

Health officials attribute the increase largely to better recognition of cases, through wide screening and better diagnosis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the numbers Thursday. They are the latest in a series of studies that have been steadily increasing the government's estimate for autism.

This new estimate means autism is nearly twice as common as officials said it was only five years ago, and likely affects roughly 1 million U.S. children and teens.

In Utica, young children with autism can go to the Kelberman Center and take part in the Promise Program, which is aimed at children ages 3 to 5.

The program is set up like a normal pre-school, but with more one-on-one sessions incorporated throughout the day.

Currently, the program serves 42 children and that number is going up. Program Director Dr. Jean Jacobson says the number of cases in the Mohawk Valley is on par with the national numbers.

"Our referrals have increased," Dr. Jacobson said. "We've had to go from 5 to 7 classrooms in the last three years, if that says anything. I think that's an indicator that something might be going on."

Dr. Jacobson says that if you think your child shows sign of autism, discuss your child's symptoms with a pediatrician and their teacher.

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