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More kids are being diagnosed as autistic. About 1 in 88 children has the disorder.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the latest numbers are based on 2008 data from 14 states and suggest that autism rates have climbed 23% since 2006. Shannon Coconis represents the Southeast Ohio Chapter of the National Autism Association, and she said experts are looking for answers.
"You can say that there's better diagnosis and earlier intervention, which could explain some of the increase, but we really believe that there's environmental factors that are affecting and causing autism in these kids," said Coconis.
Coconis said this study should be a wake-up call, not only to the government, but to schools and families. She said doctors and teachers can be life-changing resources, but parents play a crucial role in the development of their autistic child.
"A parent is the best judge of his or her own child, so when you start thinking that your child should be talking, smiling and giving you some interaction, and they're not, that's a red flag," said Coconis.
Autism awareness events are in the works, including a golf outing in June. For more information, visit www.naaseo.org.