CDC reports autism rise among U.S. children

About 2 percent of American schoolchildren were diagnosed with autism disorders in 2011 and 2012, a 72 percent increase from the previous five years, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The current statistics were compared with the CDC’s 2007 report that found 1.16 percent of children ages 6 to 17 were diagnosed on the autism spectrum, according to their parents. Most of the increase was due to more diagnoses of milder autism disorders, the Atlanta-based agency said.

The current data show that 1 in 50 children have been diagnosed with autism or a related disorder, such as Asperger’s syndrome. The conditions are characterized by difficulty with communication, social functioning and by unusual responses to sensory information.

“Changes in ascertainment of autism spectrum disorders could occur because of changes in autism spectrum disorders awareness among parents or health-care professionals, increased access to diagnostic services, changes in how screening tests or diagnostic criteria are used, or increased special education placements in the community,” the authors wrote.

More than one-third of the children in the study were diagnosed in or after 2008, some of whom were “well beyond” the age when autism should be clearly noticeable. The biggest increase was for boys and adolescents ages 14 to 17.

“Much of the prevalence increase from 2007 to 2011-2012 for school-aged children was the result of diagnoses of children with previously unrecognized autism spectrum disorder,” the report said.

The parents’ reports of diagnoses weren’t substantiated through clinical evaluation or medical records, the authors wrote.

Mental health professionals have revised the standards for diagnosing autism in the newest version of their guidelines, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is scheduled to be released next month. Among the changes was a decision to collapse several conditions, including Asperger’s syndrome and child disintegrative disorder, into a single autism diagnosis.

Critics have said the elimination of Asperger’s as a unique diagnosis could limit access to care for some high- functioning people who previously may have been diagnosed with the syndrome. A study presented in January at a medical meeting suggested that as many as half of the high-functioning patients who had been diagnosed under the previous standards may be missed by the new ones.

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Most Read