More Children Being Diagnosed With Autism Across America

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- 1 in 68 children in America are identified as Autistic. That rate has risen at an alarming pace and physicians say there still isn't one thing that can be pinpointed as the cause. However, one thing they believe is contributing to the numbers is a better understanding of diagnosis.

"At 18 months and 24 months we have the parents fill out an autism screen. The particular one we use is called an MCHAT. If we see things on there that are concerning to us, then we go ahead and refer them as soon as possible," said Dr. Debra Sowell.

With numbers going up, resources are more important than ever. One of those resources sits on the campus of WKU. The Kelly Autism Program is not only helping students assimilate to college life, it's also helping them graduate.

Rachel Pierce is graduating this spring with a Major in English. Her hopes of becoming a librarian are within sight and she said it's due to the acceptance of her disorder on the campus of WKU and in the program.

"I still appreciate that people don't think I'm not capable of things they are capable of just because I have Autism. It always makes me happy that people believe in me."

Physicians say stories like Rachel's show that a diagnosis of Autism doesn't mean a person can't fully engage in society.

"That recent study shows that many of them have higher than average IQ's and they're able to function in society but they may just have something a little bit different along that spectrum," added Dr. Sowell.

Doctors say testing all over the medical field will continue until they can figure out exactly what causes the disorder.

Officials at the Kelly Autism Program said April is Autism Awareness Month and their goal is to not only promote awareness, but to also strive for acceptance.

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