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New Research Raises Autism Awareness

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Updated: 4/02/2012 6:04 pm
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. New statistics show more and more children are being diagnosed with the condition.

Although doctors don't fully understand autism, they do know that catching it in its earliest stages can help children live productive lives.

Frankie Sanders is a ninth grader who loves to play chess on his I-Pad, and is trying to pass the test for his driver's permit. Frankie also has autism, which is a neurodevelopmental disorderthat affects language, behavior, and social skills. Researchers are still looking for answers, but what they do know is that diagnosing children early is critical, as was the case for Frankie.

Frankie was diagnosed when he was 15 months old. He immediately began to get speech therapy and occupational therapy and physical therapy. He was placed in a group with kids who were typically developing. All of that hard work is paying off. Frankie is now 15, and attends a regular high school and plays on the football team. Dr. Gary Goldstein of the Kennedy Krieger Institute says autism can be diagnosed at two years of age in 90% of the children. By three certainly, and we actually can diagnose it at 18 months in many children.

But according to this new report, most cases are diagnosed late, after age 2 or 3. That's when therapy has been shown to help the most, especially with speech and communication.


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