Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Autism Rates Rise Again

This recent article from the Ottawa Citizen is reporting that the CDC in the United States estimates Autism Spectrum Disorder prevalence at 1 in 91 children (about 1.1% of the population) and 1 in 58 boys (1.74% of boys).  This is a huge increase from the early days of 1 in 10000 births (0.01%).  What was once a rarity is now becoming more and more common.  A typical elementary school of perhaps 500 students will now include between five and ten students on the spectrum.

Will the prevalence reach 5% of boys in the next 20 years?  Governments need to prepare now for this inevitability, while researchers continue to work to determine what must be the missing environmental trigger for this disorder.

In Ontario, this means:
  • More trained ABA therapists graduating from Ontario colleges, and appropriate placements for them to gain valuable experience.
  • Mandatory training for Educational Assistants (EAs) working with children on the spectrum.
  • Increased funding for the Autism Intervention Program - there are over 1,600 kids waiting, and this will get worse, not better, as prevalence continues to grow.
  • Better access to early diagnosticians for autism.
  • A plan and individualized funding for community care and involvement for adults transitioning from school.

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