WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – New data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests there is a rise in kids being diagnosed with autism.
While the number of kids diagnosed is higher. It’s not necessarily that more children are being born with autism. Some believe it’s in part to an increase in resources and awareness.
“Doctors and families have just become a little bit more knowledgeable on what milestones are and to start looking at that a little sooner,” said Kevin Fish, Ability Point executive director.
Fish has been with the non-profit for more than 25 years. He has seen an increase in those with autism.
“When our summer program began basically 30 years ago, we had like two students with autism in the program. The last couple of years obviously we’ve been down with the pandemic but in 2019 over 30% of our shuttle program were kids with autism,” Fish explained.
According to the CDC, one in 44 8-year-olds was diagnosed with autism in 2018. That’s compared to the one in 54 back in 2016.
The data shows kids are getting diagnosed sooner.
“Unless, they get the proper diagnosis, they’re not going to get the help that they need,” said Melinda Eddington, a Wichita mother of three.
Eddington’s youngest is an 8-year-old named Jordan and has autism. He was diagnosed early in his life.
She is thankful for the resources he now has open because of it.
“Paras and special education teachers and speech teachers. He has all those avenues open to him when he has an IEP and that has just put some so much further ahead than if he was just trying to get by in the classroom,” she explained.
Eddington wants to encourage parents if they notice something off to not be afraid to get their child checked.
“Maybe they go and the doctor says, ‘Oh, your kids fine.’ That’s great! But if they’re not you can start giving them the help that they need,” she said.
“If their child or loved one gets diagnosed, that is not the end of the world. There are supports there. There’s people in the community who will support them, and there’s lots of possibilities for their loved one,” Fish said.