Increased Autism Diagnoses Put Focus on Maintaining Services in Twin Tiers

- ATHENS, Pa. (WETM-18) - News that the number of children diagnosed with autism jumped 30 percent in recent years has some Twin Tiers parents asking if there will be enough support services in the future for their children.

”I was scared to death. I really was. At first, I cried,” said Kimberly Lattimer.

When Kimberly Lattimer's son was diagnosed with autism, she didn't know what to do. That's becoming a more common experience for more parents.

According to a new report from the CDC, children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the U.S. jumped from one in 88 in 2008, to one in 68 in 2010.

One local doctor questions whether it's really that common, but thinks numbers jumped in part because of increased ability to diagnose children.

”Sometimes these kids can go untreated; it can go unrecognized,” said Dr. Richard Terry of Arnot Health in Elmira. “And they can be delayed socially, cognitively, or otherwise. So, it's very critical that we recognize it at an early age.”

“Once you have that diagnosis, there's really a lot more opportunities for help for your children,” said Lattimer.

Two of Lattimer's sons are diagnosed with ASD. She says they get help in and out of school.

“The therapist that goes to school with him and keeps him focused on what they need to do.”

”(The aide) helps with hard problems that I have in class,” said Kimberly’s son Adin.

The Southern Tier autism awareness group said services are not strained right now, but they need funding to continue—and with more children being diagnosed, there is concern.

“With more children that need (services), I'm pretty sure there'll be a strain on those in the near future,” said Lattimer.

So this mother hopes parents who go through the same experience in the future: will have the same opportunities and happiness.

Parents should act early when there's concern: by six months, a baby should be smiling. By 12 months, they should be responding to their name and pointing to objects. Talk to your child's doctor if you have any questions.

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