One in 49 children in New Jersey are on the autism spectrum which puts the Garden State second in the nation, behind Utah, as the highest rates of autism in the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today that the rate of cases nationwide has risen to one in 88 children.  The previous estimate was one in 110.

"There has definitely been an increase in awareness, an extension of the definition of autism and better detection by doctors," said Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, Psychologist and Clinical Director at Autism New Jersey.  "But, overall in a scientific study on the potential causes of the increase, there is still 50 percent of the picture that's unknown.  Clearly, we don't understand the full story yet."

The new numbers are from the latest in a series of studies that have been steadily increasing the government's autism estimate.

It shows that autism is nearly twice as common as officials said it was only five years ago and likely affects roughly one million children and teens in the United States.

"Here in New Jersey, while we don't know the complete reason for the increase, it can also be attributed to the fact that educators and health care professionals in the Garden State do extensive record keeping,  They are doing a fantastic job at charting the progress of children, but we need to continue monitoring and identifying as many children as possible to get effective intervention as early as possible."