The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 out of every 59 children are diagnosed with autism.
In 2012, those numbers were different. The CDC estimated that 1 out of every 88 children had autism.
What changed? Some say awareness, education and reporting.
Dr. Andrea McCarter, owner of New Hope Counseling, has two children on the autism spectrum. She said she decided to start her counseling business because when she first adopted her children and realized they had special needs, there weren’t many places or people that could help.
“My 10-year-old is classically autistic. She does not make eye contact, she flaps (a bird-like gesture), she talks in animal sounds when she gets frustrated or confused or she doesn’t know how to answer something,” McCarter said.
McCarter said autism awareness is important because it helps show that people on the spectrum are like everyone else, because everyone is different.
When people are able to know or learn more about autism, they can learn how to communicate with those who communicate differently.
A child can be diagnosed with autism as early as two years old.
McCarter said that at that age, pediatricians can start looking for the typical signs of autism.
“Are they communicating at the age appropriate level? Are they interacting with their peers on a developmentally appropriate level?”
Autism awareness is highlighted in many different ways, McCarter said.
TV shows such as “The Good Doctor” and “Sesame Street” help break some stereotypes, as well as the Special Olympics.
“There’s a stereostype that autism and intellectual disability are synonymous, and they are not,” McCarter said.
Awareness and understanding has also helped with education in public schools.
Even though services for students with autism are growing at schools, McCarter said that’s not the case for every type of autistic student.
“If your child has a diagnosis of autism and that’s all; they don’t have intermittent explosive disorder, some mood disorder (or) anxiety disorder that inhibits their learning, there typically are not services that are put into place,” McCarter said.
McCarter said it’s important for people to understand that many who are on the spectrum simply have difficulty socializing and understand more than one might think.
She said the more people are aware, the more opportunities become availalble to those who have autism.
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