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1 in 68 Mississippi Kids Are Being diagnosed With Autism

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 14 Apr 2014 03:30pm | comments
A growing number of Mississippi kids are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, doctors says a growing awareness of the disease is making it more treatable....
Students at the Magnolia Speech School in West Jackson sing after lunch.
Roughly 1 in 68 Mississippi kids has some degree of autism.....that's up from 1 in 150 just 14 years ago.
Autism is a neurological disorder that makes communication difficult.
Magnolia is dedicated to helping children learn to improve their communication skills and potentially return to a regular public school. 
Executive Director Tina Atkins, whose grandson is on the autism spectrum, says the condition can be a major challenge for a family.
"Behavioral issues. Potty ytraining issues. Feeding issues. And the biggest are the sleep issues. Children on the spectrum have a lot of sleep disturbances. They will get up in the middle of the night and stay up for hours. Which can be devastating on a family," Atkins said.
The number of kids diagnosed with autism has been increasing for years, which Atkins and others, attribute to a growing understanding of the condition as well as a broader definition of what it means to be autistic. 
However, a better understanding of the condition has also improved treatments the condition says pediatrician Dr. Susan Buttross, who specializes in Autism at the University of Mississippi Medical Center,.
"If we get it early. Like if we pick up on that child by age two, many times by the time the get to kindergarten there may not be many discernable sign or symptoms," Buttross said.
While the condition has no cure, Buttross and Atkins both say treatment has improved to the point where many Autistic people can be integrated into normal life.




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