Passions can run high when you ask people who've been affected by autism what causes it. Monday, we discussed on the air a report by our David Matthau on why New Jersey leads the nation in the rate of autism cases.

Many people are still skeptical of the number of vaccines given to children in the state, but to some people even the mention of that is heresy. Robert De Niro along with other high profile figures and regular folks alike have come out to openly say they saw a difference after their child was immunized with another round of vaccines.

I don't have an educated opinion to give, but feel strongly that these voices should be heard and not shunned or ridiculed. Suzanne Buchanan the executive director of Autism New Jersey says that 1 in 41 eight-year olds in the state have autism.

She also pointed to the fact that here in the state we have access to both health and educational records of children and that the definition of autism has been expanded to include more children with milder disabilities that are now included in the definition.

Two interesting things came out of our conversation with the audience on Monday. First, a woman called to say her son has autism and that it's insensitive to call people "autistic" but rather to say they have autism. I'd never heard that before, but if you're speaking to someone about it, that's good to know so as not to cause offense.

Secondly, a man called to say the number is high here because of the generous educational benefits offered by our school systems here. He says he knows of many people who have moved here to take advantage of those opportunities for their children with autism. That might be the answer than no one else wants to state out loud, but that sounds like the prime reason to me why the numbers are so high here.

Those who are not dealing with the issue can point to that as yet another reason our property taxes as so high, and those who are dealing with the issue can take comfort in that fact. It's a big issue with a lot of differing opinions and ancillary effects.

New Jersey 101.5 will have a special town hall discussion on autism tonight at 7 p.m. with experts to answer your questions.

More from New Jersey 101.5:

Dennis and Judi are on the air weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tweet then @DennisandJudi or @NJ1015.

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