Autism diagnosis rate more than doubles in 10 years - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Autism diagnosis rate more than doubles in 10 years

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

The diagnosis rates for autism spectrum disorder are climbing at a staggering rate. In the year 2000, Centers for Disease Control data showed 1 in 150 children was diagnosed with the disorder. Just a decade later in 2010, recently released data shows the rate has increased to 1 in 68.

Boys are more than four times more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder. One in 42 male children will be diagnosed. For females, the number is 1 in 168.

Toledo Doctor Emily Hayman developed what is called Neuroflex yoga, a type of yoga designed specifically for children with autism.

Hayman says instances of the disorder are not necessarily increasing at that rate. Part of the increase could be due to better education about autism and autism spectrum disorder.

"Because the public is more aware of what the signs and symptoms are, it's being diagnosed more easily now," said Hayman.

Hayman also has an explanation for the gender imbalance.

"Boys are 4 times more likely to have autism than girls, and a lot of that is just the way the genes are passed on," said Hayman.

The same CDC report which revealed 1 in 68 children is being diagnosed found another problem. The CDC says children are being diagnosed with the disorder too late. The average diagnosis age, according to the report, is 4-years-old. Autism spectrum disorder can be diagnosed as early as 2-years-old.

Hayman says this lost time is crucial, and can have a major effect on the child.

"The brain starts to myelinate between the ages of birth and 8. So the closer you get to 8 years old the less able you are to change those neuropathways," said Dr. Hayman. "Children with autism learn skills in a very different way than their typically developing peers because everything needs to be broken down into task analysis and into small steps so the way we need to teach them is very different. So if we can do that at a very early age then they are able to progress and live happy independent lives with just a little bit of a support network that they need."

Parents should be aware of the warning signs their child may have autism spectrum disorder. The most obvious red flag is a lack of eye contact. Another sign is social delays; children with autism often prefer to play alone. Hayman says parents should also pay attention to how their children interact with their toys.

"Sometimes you'll see children with autism playing with cars or trucks or whatever and they'll line them up in rows and they'll do things that are sort of OCD behaviors. So they'll do those things instead of playing with them on highways or crashing them together," said Hayman.

There are several theories about what could cause this disorder. The most controversial of those theories is that autism is caused by vaccines. Numerous studies have refuted that theory. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics "research has been conducted on all of these topics, and the studies continue to find vaccines to be a safe and effective way to prevent serious disease."

The Centers for Disease Control says "there is not a causal relationship between certain vaccine types and autism."

Hayman agrees.

"The chemical that was in vaccines has been taken out since 1999 so that's been tossed out the window," said Hayman.

Doctor Hayman points to some of the most recent research, which links autism with maternal fetal conditions

"A couple studies have shown elevated levels of testosterone, progesterone and cortical in utero and that's being linked to a higher autism diagnosis. This is important because maternal stress is becoming more common," said Hayman.

There is also growing definition of what autism is and what the disability covers. The CDC study found nearly half of children with an autism spectrum disorder have average or above average intellectual ability, that is, an IQ above 85, compared with one third of children a decade ago.   

Hayman says misdiagnoses could also be partially responsible for the spike, as many symptoms of the disorder are similar to those of ADAD.

Toledo News Now is giving you a chance to Be a Hero for Autism this weekend. Find out more here:http://www.toledonewsnow.com/category/138507/give-autism-the-boot-2014

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