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Is There an Autism Epidemic?

The Centers for Disease Control released new data on Autism rates on Thursday, March 27th, indicating that now 1 in 68 children under the age of eight are diagnosed with Autism in the United States this year; an increase of over 30% from the 2008 CDC report.

While the prevalence of autism remains an alarming factor, it does not signify an “epidemic-” An epidemic is defined as a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. There are several reasons that the current rise in prevalence of autism does not meet this definition.

First and foremost, autism is measured in quantity over time. Our team of Ph.D. and Masters-level Board Certified clinicians note that the method of iStock_000006689823XSmallmeasurement itself is changing. Over the last 10 years, research in the field of autism has led to a deeper understanding of what constitutes autism, meaning behavior analysts and scientists are better able to diagnose and to diagnose milder or more subtle presentations of the condition. Furthermore, it was not until the 1940s that the recognition of differences in social interaction, communication, focused interests and other items came to be categorized by Leo Kanner as Autism.

Second, awareness of autism and familiarity with its symptoms has increased drastically over recent years with the advent of National Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Awareness Day, along with the rise of organizations like Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of America. The establishment of these items and organizations has led to more teachers considering the diagnosis when concerns are noticed in the classroom along with more doctors being educated on signs and symptoms. This has led to individuals being diagnosed much earlier.

TiStock_000015654647XSmallhird, studies have been conducted showing that the when the same methods are used to compare different groups of children born at different times, autism prevalence is the same.

While the increase in identified cases of autism does not the definition an epidemic, it is an opportunity for more individuals to receive the treatment services that could drastically change their lives and create brighter futures.  Organizations like Trumpet Behavioral Health are committed and ready to provide these therapy services at the highest level of quality.

Learn more about our services and the research we’re doing by visiting www.tbh.com/services.