By Nicole Hegewald
Autism awareness is steadily increasing. The autism spectrum has been broadened over time and the definition of autism has been generalized to incorporate more symptoms and levels of severity. As the capability to recognize autistic symptoms in younger children improves, the number of children in America who have autism has increased according to federal health officials.
Today, there are approximately 113,000 more children diagnosed with autism then originally believed. Recent studies show that about 673,000 American children have autism. That’s 1 in 100 children.
“The concern here is that buried in these numbers is a true increase,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “We’re going to have to think very hard about what we’re going to do for the 1 in 100.”
Dr. Susan E. Levy of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics subcommittee on autism recognizes how difficult this disease is to diagnose because the child’s behaviors are the only symptoms.
“With diabetes you can get a blood test,” said Levy. “As of yet, there’s no consistent biologic marker we can use to make the diagnosis of autism.”
In a telephone analysis from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Heath parents reported about 1 in 91 children, ages 3 to 17, were somewhere on the autism spectrum. The survey predominantly asked about the child’s health issues and included a couple questions specifically on autism.
With this increase, even politicians are taking notice. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, has
recently made autism a priority for research. This is according to an OP-ED by Health and Humans Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Federal stimulus money has been earmarked for autism, and a 2006 law pumped millions of dollars of new federal money into autism research, screening and treatment.
As autism take an upward rise in children in America, organizations such as the International Center for Autism Research and Education, ICare4Autism, are doing all they can to raise awareness and knowledge of autism. Fundraisers are being arranged, research is being studied, and donations are being collected to help as many families that are affected by this disease as possible. To do your part visit www.icare4autism.mobi/store2/ to donate today!