The faces of autism can be seen everywhere at the Matthew Reardon Center. The facility specializes in education and care for children with the disorder. For the teachers who work with these students day in and day out, the new stats doesn't come as a surprise. "before, children were being diagnosed with intellectual disabilities or other types of disabilities, and autism was secondary," said Jennifer McGee." Now they're receiving autism as a primary diagnoses."
And no one knows that better than McGee, who is not only an Education Specialist at the Matthew Reardon Center, she is also the mother of three autistic children. All with varying degrees of autism, all with their own special needs. Ten year old Katherine is the most severe, with few verbal skills. While five year old twins, Connor and Carson, are more outgoing but still lack certain social skills. The spectrum of Autism is broad. " A child could have mild autism, where a child is verbal, but still have difficulty expressing their wants and needs," explained Jennifer," The far end of the spectrum they may have severe autism. They may be non verbal and have a lot of sensory difficulty."
Which may be one of the reasons why the rates have increased. But for families like the McGee's, the new statistics may prove another theory claiming that if you had one child with autism, the chances of having another child with the disorder increases.
But with more children being diagnosed, and no known cause, more funding will be needed to help these families out. Money many state health systems just don't have." We're looking at a continued increase on services and funding that is needed to help these families on a day to day basis. I think that's going to reach a crisis situation," said Jennifer.
Right now all the money for autism research and services is put into a generic fund for all developmental disabilities. But with the rise in autism, there may be a strain on this funding, especially when these kids reach adulthood.