New study shows more kids diagnosed with autism

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis-- The latest numbers from the Centers of Disease Control estimate that one in sixty-eight kids have autism. The number is 30 percent higher than what was previously thought.

Ashley Schulner's son Isaiah was diagnosed with autism just after age two.

"Between 15 and 18 months he started to regress in speech and the normal developmental things at that age,” said Schulner.

A survey conducted by the CDC says boys are five times more likely than girls to have autism.

Dr. Timothy Robertson with Mayo Clinic Health System says while the numbers are startling, he is cautious to agree that the study shows that the rate of autism is increasing.

“It’s felt on the basis scientific studies that a lot of the increase in diagnosis is that the criteria are being applied very liberally,” said Robertson.

Robertson says the study shows that more people are being diagnosed but whether that means they truly have autism is hard to prove.

“One of the key issues is there isn't a blood test or there isn’t an image study that says this is autism so there is a lot of subjectivity,” said Robertson.

Robertson says there is still a lot unknown about autism and more research needs to be done.
He says what they do know though is that autism is a disorder that affects children speech and social skills in many different ways.

With autism the goal is to identify it as soon and as early in life as possible. If parents have concerns as a child to bring that to their physician for screening so that early intervention can be done.

For the Schulner family early detection was key. Ashley says she's seen huge improvements in her son's speech and ability to interact with people thanks to support from teachers and family.

Doctors say the main takeaway from the study is that parents should act early if they have concerns with their child’s development.

Here's what to look for: by six months, a baby should be smiling.

And by 12 months, they should be responding to their name and pointing to objects.