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Autism: The Pandemic

Over the years the number of children with Autism has increased since the early 1990′s the numbers have risen from 60 per 10,000 children to 1 in 88 children as of March of 2012.

The CDC developed the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) in 2000 to monitor the prevalence of autism and developmental disabilities in the United States. The recent rates are for the 2008 surveillance year; 14 sites within the United States participated. The ADDM focuses on 8 year old children because previous studies suggest that this is the age where the various aspects of autism are most likely to be diagnosed. The ADDM determines cases of autism through a two step procedure. The first step involves collecting and screening records at multiple settings, including educational and health settings. The second step involved rigorous review of all records by trained clinicians to determine ASD case status according to the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria. Cases are included if there is documented display of behaviors that meet the ADDM surveillance criteria for an ASD diagnosis anytime from birth to age eight. The current autism rates released by the CDC are based on the DSM-IV-TR, the current diagnostic manual used by clinicians to diagnosis autism. A new edition, the DSM-V, is expected to be released in 2013, with proposed changes to diagnostic criteria for autism and developmental disorders. These proposed changes are significantly different from current criteria and will likely impact diagnoses received as well as access to services.

People used to think that autism was irreversible. The good news is that there are now a range of treatments that can be really helpful.

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