Is autism on the rise?


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The number of American children with autism has gone up 30% in just two years, that’s according to a new study by the CDC.

One in 68, that’s the number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2010.

A disability almost unheard of a decade ago now seems to be exploding.

Despite the spike in statistics, is autism really on the rise?

One local official hopes to shed light on the disability.

“With the increase of awareness we’re finding that we understand it better, so therefore we are able to identify it more frequently,” said Deana Conner, a Speech Language Pathologist, at Deming Elementary.

In Conner’s 10 years as a Speech Pathologist she has recognized an uptick in the number of children identified with autism.

“I usually go between 8 to 15 kids officially on the autism spectrum at a time and that is a large population of our school.”

What’s still unknown is the driver of that increase.

Many experts believe the rise is largely due to better awareness and diagnosis rather than a true increase in the number of children being born with the condition.

“I think back to students in my class who were like this but were never identified, and I think now we know more about it so we’re finding it,” said Conner.

The signs and symptoms can start as early as infancy.

“Eye contact, babbling, reacting to your smile, if you see that those milestones they are not hitting, then you might just want to be aware of that,” said Conner.

Early intervention could be key to making sure those with autism don’t fall behind.

“Parents just often times think physically, are they sick, how do they appear, are they eating, but I think that communication piece should often be a dialogue between the parents and the doctors.”

Now Conner is asking for the community to play their part, especially since its Autism Awareness Month.

“Awareness amongst parents, physicians that’s great, but I think we are forgetting about the peers of these students with autism that need to be provided with this information so they can be a helpful tool.”

There are numerous resources right here in the Wabash Valley for both parents and children living with autism.

Below is a list of links. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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