It may seem like the number of autism spectrum disorders is spiking, but our local doctors believe the numbers actually reflect that we are better able to identify the disorder now.
The numbers are staggering: 1 in 68 children now has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
Sanford Pediatrician Dr. Chris Tiongson says there is a significant change in screening for the disorder compared to the past. He says routine screening during children's 18-24 month well child checks can identify problems.
Some signs of concern are: (1) if the child is not developing a social smile, (2) does not have good eye contact and (3) has language problems. A check by any of those symptoms would flag further testing.
Doctors say autism isn't one size fits all. There is a broad range of categories that fall underneath the autism spectrum umbrella.
Dr. Tiognson says treatments are also improving. He says the best treatments are behavior based treatments. He says intensive therapy focusing on better social and language skills can make big a difference. And, he says the sooner children get treatment -- the better.