CDC: 1 In 110 Kids Diagnosed With Autism 4-14-2011 - WSMV Channel 4

CDC: 1 In 110 Kids Diagnosed With Autism 4-14-2011

Reported By Cynthia Williams
NASHVILLE, Tenn.
A diagnosis of autism can turn a family's life upside down, and it's happening more often. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 110 children in the United States is diagnosed with the developmental disorder.

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Tamla Parnell said her twins, 2-year-olds Maddie and Gavin, are as different as night and day. Gavin is a nonstop ball of energy, while Maddie is low-key and prefers to sleep.
But both children have something in common: They were recently diagnosed with autism. The children were tested after failing to meet developmental milestones.
"For each milestone, I could never say, 'Yes, they can get up, crawled, walked, fed themselves,'" said Parnell. "Communication was a problem. They are still not able to communicate the needs they have."
Parents of children with autism said they're also frustrated by the challenges in treating the disorder. Right now, the twins participate in 20 hours of weekly behavior therapy.
But researchers at Vanderbilt said medications that are used to treat autism often have side effects that are unacceptable.
"What we see is they work, but they do have potentially significant side effects like weight gain, rigidity, tremors, those types of side effects, so we want to be careful about what children get those medications," said Dr. Melissa McPheeters of Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt researchers participated in a federally funded study that examined the effectiveness of autism treatments. The results were as far-reaching as the disorder itself. The best anti-psychotic medications don't work for every child.
"As any clinician or parent will tell you, every child with autism is different from the next child with autism," McPheeters said. "We need to figure out how to treat each of them."
The twins have been accepted into a program at UCLA that offers intense one-on-one help for children with autism, and their mother said she's hopeful about the next step.
Some parents of children with autism believe changes in diet and nutrition help with the disorder. But researchers said there is little evidence to prove those types of changes make a huge and permanent difference in autism.

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