― Temple Grandin
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.
In December 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 110 births in the United States and 1 in 70 in North Carolina. Now, the most report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports that 1 in 88 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder, representing a 23 percent increase.
Autism in New Hanover County:
The school district has an unusual distinction on the subject of autism. The district has the second highest rate of autism in the state. The rate is measured in proportion to the number of students in a district or ADM, and New Hanover has 14 children with autism per 1,000 students, based on 2008-2009 school year numbers, the most recent data. That’s higher than the rate in Wake, Durham or Mecklenburg counties.And the rate has grown steadily in the past 15 years. Since the program started in 1995, the number of students with autism rose from about 15 to nearly 400. In the 2007-2008 school year, New Hanover was ranked third in the state. The N.C. Department of Instruction’s Statistical Report, which contains the state’s autism numbers, has not released statistics for the 2009-2010 school year.