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Understanding Autism
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s premier health watchdog, is watching – and trying to understand – autism. The Autism and Development Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network seeks to determine the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), understand if the rates of ASDs are changing and study "whether autism is more common in some groups of children than in others."

Based on the ADDM data, it is estimated that about "1 in 150 children" has an ASD. The number of children with an ASD has increased over the past decade but it is "unclear how much of this increase is due to changes in how we identify and classify ASDs in people, and how much is due to a true increase in the number of people who have autism and related disorders."

The report explains the importance of treating ASDs and other developmental disorders as an "urgent public health concern" and doing "all we can to identify children’s learning needs, and begin intervention as early as possible to enable all children to reach their full potential."

The founder of Autism Speaks, an NGO, urges Congress to fund the Combating Autism Act passed last December, "That money has to get into the hands of the researchers so we can find a cause and understand what is fueling this high prevalence."

The Washington Post notes that the report "sheds no light on the controversial claim that trace amounts of mercury in childhood vaccines are behind the growing number of diagnoses in recent decades." A senior CDC official explained "we don't know the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders, but we do know that if we can identify autism and other developmental problems in children early, they can begin receiving appropriate interventions sooner."

See ADDM Community Report

See Autism Speaks website

See Augusta Levy Learning Center website

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