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One in 110 U.S. children has autism

December 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
About 1 in 110 children have autism, according to the government's latest estimate released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.At 6 months, Monica Holloway noticed her baby Wills was clingy, anxious and not hitting developmental marks.

"He wasn't babbling or cooing like my other friend's children were doing," said Holloway.

Clothing, bathwater and visitors would send Will into tantrums. Hearing the official diagnosis of autism made Holloway feel isolated and adrift.

"I was so worried about his future. What is going to happen to this beautiful child of mine who I love so much," said Holloway.

Holloway decided to get busy. She joined Autism Speaks to help herself and others. She wrote an inspirational book about Wills' journey and how a Golden Retriever, whose name is Cowboy, brought her son out of his shell.

Today, he gets along just like any other 12-year-old.

When her son was diagnosed, the U.S. prevalence of autism spectrum disorders was 1 in 300. Now the CDC reports autism affects 1 in 110 children. Experts say they are seeing more diagnoses and more cases.

"When you talk to scientists who study this area, there's factors related to genetics, and there's factors related to the environment," said ABC News Senior Health and Medical Editor Dr. Rich Besser. "But no one really understands what's driving this increase in autism."

What we do know is early intervention helps children lead productive, meaningful lives.

"Since we're seeing more of it we should be able to diagnose it quicker and give more therapies quicker, which will help a child speak and function in society," said Dr. Ellis Beesley.

The head of pediatrics at Good Samaritan Hospital says the increase in cases will bolster funding for research and needed services for families.

"If they get all the therapies they need when they are younger the better the outcome," Dr. Beesley.

While seeing a rise in autism is a dreadful thought, Monica Holloway would rather dwell on the good things that'll come out of it.

"I don't want these numbers to get bigger. I don't want this to keep going this direction," said Holloway. "But since it's here. I want people to to deal with it. I want people to get busy."


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