April is Autism Awareness Month and with one in 58 children in the state diagnosed with the disorder, better awareness and understanding is urgently needed.
“In NC, which was one of 11 states monitored through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, the prevalence rate is one in 58 children,” Director of Marketing and Communications for the Autism Society of NC (ASNC) David Laxton said. “This is an increase of 17 percent from the 2012 report.”
Nationally, one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism - a 30 percent increase from one in 88, in 2012.
According to Autism Speaks, autism is “a group of complex disorders of brain development.” Those diagnosed with the disorder can have intellectual disabilities, poor motor skills and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Symptoms typically emerge in children between the ages of two and three.
“With the increase in the incidence of autism climbing again in the last two years from 1 in 88 to 1 in 68, it is easy to see why the Centers for Disease Control has continued to call it a ‘National Epidemic’, this month,” Dr. Jim Taylor, president of the board of directors for KAMPN (Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature), a nonprofit based in Deep Gap and affiliated with Appalachian State University, said.
Taylor has over 40 years of experience working with special needs children.
“Research continues in an attempt to uncover the causes of the disability, but nothing definitive is being found to account for the large increases,” Taylor said. “Some varied connections are being found that define the causes in some cases, but not enough to account for all of the children being found to be on the autism spectrum.”
Luckily, there are opportunities afforded children with autism and their families, in the High Country.
KAMPN’s Camp Cogger is located in Deep Gap and is staffed by Special Education and Human Services students from ASU and offers seven, two-day sessions throughout the month of July.
“With the increase of individuals with autism, programs need to be developed that offer opportunities for these families,” Taylor said. “KAMPN offers an overnight camping opportunity for children with autism and their families to enjoy all of the benefits nature has to offer.”
Taylor said current research is showing many benefits that nature offers children diagnosed with autism.
For additional information about autism and the ASNC, visit them on the web at www.autismsociety-nc.org.
To learn more about KAMPN, contact Dr. Jim Taylor at (828) 264-0054 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.