Autism Rates Soar in New Jersey [AUDIO]
One in 49 children in New Jersey are on the autism spectrum and the Garden State is second in the nation when it comes to the highest rates of the condition in the country.
"Obviously an increase in awareness, extension of the definition of autism and better detection by doctors have helped fuel the increase," said Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, Clinical Director of Autism New Jersey. "But, in a scientific study on the potential causes of the hike, there is still 50 percent of the picture that is unknown."
Buchanan believes the increase also has a lot to do with the extensive record keeping of officials here in the Garden State. "New Jersey educators and health care professionals are doing a wonderful job at documenting the progress of children. When these researchers go in to a child's record, they're finding many reports and they're finding many detailed reports. So, there is a much richer database of information," said Buchanan.
"There is a 20 percent increase in the number of cases since the last report a few years ago. The fact that the numbers continue to rise also prove that we need to continue monitoring and identifying as many children as we possibly can to get effective intervention as early as we can," said Buchanan.
"There is good news in that children are getting diagnosed at earlier ages than they were in previous years. The earlier you intervene, the more intensely you intervene, the better for the child in the long run. So, here in New Jersey, we are doing a very good job at diagnosing children early. That's a good thing. We need to continue building on that to help more children earlier," said Buchanan.