ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) — Autism diagnosis rates in children have tripled in the past 16 years, according to a new study published in the Journal Pediatrics.
As autism rates have gone up throughout the years, one might question why. A big reason behind the increase might be growing awareness.
“Working with our pediatricians, schools and providers are becoming more aware. People are starting to see those signs of autism earlier, and so we are ultimately getting more diagnosis even if the frequency of Autism isn’t occurring more readily in the population. We’re just more aware of it,” Executive Director of Waiver Services at KaleidAScope Sara Kitchen said.
With increased awareness of autism, the process of diagnosing ASD for doctors has improved.
“So we’re doing a lot better at diagnosing, identifying individuals at a younger age in their toddler years. There are signs now, pediatricians have when they’re doing their well-baby checks, where they can go through and be able to identify early on, if an individual needs further evaluation,” Director of Autism Society of North Western Pennsylvania Tish Bartlett said.
Getting an early diagnosis can make all the difference.
“Early intervention is such a key component to better outcomes for individuals that are identified that are living with autism,” said Bartlett.
With the number of people living with ASD, the resources available aren’t meeting the needs of the community.
“So it is a never-ending stream of phone calls, and I know that doesn’t just go through KaleidAScope. That goes for all providers in the area. There’s just so much need and not enough staff to go around,” Kitchen said.