Autism numbers on the rise, month of April to raise its awarenes - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Autism numbers on the rise, month of April to raise its awareness

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - A new report found a 30% jump in thenumber of kids diagnosed.  April is knownas National Autism Awareness Month.

Melissa Haas, an occupationaltherapist at St. Joseph'sS.P.O.T.S Pediatric Therapy, said,

"The diagnosis of autism andkind of looking at its causes has been really interesting."

Autism, a developmental disability,has been rapidly affecting the livelihood of millions of children, most notablyat age two. Haas said, "The frequency of autism diagnosis is one out of 42boys will be diagnosed with autism, which is five times more likely than ingirls. So, roughly one in every 68 children will be diagnosed with autism at apoint in their life."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Controland Prevention reports there has been a 30% diagnosis increase since its laststudy in 2008 when one in 88 kids were affected.

Haas said, "That I think is dueto people being more aware to autism. With the Internet and people being moreable to communicate socially and check with their physicians and being moreempowered, people are looking at things a lot earlier and also at a largerspectrum of kids."

Doctors know what to look for beforemaking a diagnosis. Haas said, "Turning to their name, pointing toobjects, communication, repetitive interests, or not having any interest ininteracting with other people. A combination of those would beconcerning."

Autism is a disability that affectsone's ability to process information. Haas said, "There maybe people whoare brilliant and can read very early on in life. And then there are childrenwho are non-verbal, but it does not have anything to do with IQ. It just meansthe brain is processing information and they're responding. For those kids, itdoes not mean they're not smart, it just means they need help to be able tocommunicate."

Currently, there are no medicaltests to diagnose it. Haas said hands-on exercises and speech therapy are goodtools to help people with autism improve their communication skills.

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