Between the years 2000 and 2002 the number of American children diagnosed with autism was 1 in 150. By 2006, that statistic jumped to 1 in 110.
But the latest data distributed by the CDC reports that 1 in 88 American children are reportedly diagnosed with some degree of autism.
The trend seems to be that the rates of autism continue to increase, but the question is why?
Some experts suggest that autism awareness can explain at least part of the 78% increase over the past decade.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, says "How much of that increase is a result of better tracking and how much of it is a result of an actual increase, we still don't know. We know more about autism today than we have ever known,but there is still so much we don't know and wish that we knew."
Since early detection is extremely beneficial in treating autism, parents and doctors alike have been increasingly on the lookout for signs and symptoms.
Frieden points out that "Early detection is associated with better outcomes. The earlier kids are detected, the earlier they could get services, and the less impairment they'll have on their learning and in their lives on a long-term basis is our best understanding."
The CDC's recommendation is that children have autism screenings at both 18 months and 2 years of age, though most kids are not diagnosed until age four and five. By the age of four or five a child's brain is for the most part developed and therefore difficult to change.
Though autism cannot be cured, successful treatment is highly dependent on early detection and early behavioral therapy intervention.
A few important signs and symptoms of autism that parents should be on the lookout for include any child who avoids eye contact, withholds affection, or is delayed in talking.
Still, no two children are the same, and it is important to know your individual child.
Melissa Miller, a mother of an autistic daughter, points out that "The autism spectrum is so vast, and all of our children are different. Many of them don't rock back and forth or have savant skills. They are sweet, affectionate, intelligent, goofy - and exhausting - kids," she said.
Not only are the autism rates definitely on the rise, the ratio of autism diagnoses between boys and girls is also increasing with 1 in 54 boys being diagnosed with autism.
Talk to a doctor about autism.Sources
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.