CDC reports more autistic children, numbers correlate at school

Source: CDC
Source: CDC

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The number of children in Arkansas diagnosed with autism in the past decade has doubled according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC funds and tracks the statewide programs that monitor autism.

In Arkansas, one in 65 children are diagnosed with autism and we spoke with a local school district to see how those numbers correlate in the classroom.

"With children with autism, it might be that we work on their social skills or social training. Just being able to have a conversation with and have eye contact," Westside School District Special Education Designee Amanda Kirby told Region 8 News.

Every child is dealt with on a case by case basis and lately, special education class sizes in the Westside School District have grown.

"We have seen it increase in the last couple of years," Kirby said.

Their numbers are growing just like the growing number of children in Arkansas diagnosed with Autism each year. Kirby said the severity of Autistic children has changed over the years as well.

"It's the more higher functioning. We do see the lower functioning too but over the last couple of years, it's been the more higher functioning children," Kirby said.

Children that stay in regular classrooms and receive just a little bit of outside help.

"It might just be interventions or modifications in the classroom to help them be in that regular classroom, the least restrictive environment," Kirby told Region 8 News.

A recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control shows one in 65 children in Arkansas are diagnosed with Autism. That's significantly up from one in 145 back in 2002.

Arkansas was one of eleven states monitored and in tracking all 75 counties, they found boys were four times as likely than girls to be identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In seeing increased numbers of students with Autism, Kirby said it's their job to keep up to date on any and every way to help.

"Whether it's behavioral or academic, we try our best to develop a plan for them," Kirby said. "That's our main goal, to be educated on how to help them."

For more information on the report released by the CDC, click here.

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