Aidan Burke, 11, has autism.
"That little boy has to get up every morning and learn to live and adapt in this world and it's so incredibly hard for him with all his issues," mom Johanna Burke said.
New figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now show 1 in 68 children in the U.S. have an autism spectrum disorder. That's about a 30-percent increase from two years ago.
"We believe part of the increase in prevalence is due to better detection of autism. However, we still feel we are underestimating the prevalence of autism in the U.S.," said Michael Rosanoff, the associate director of public health research at Autism Speaks.
The report also highlights that autism is almost five times more common among boys than girls. And while the disorder can be diagnosed as early as age 2, most children aren't diagnosed until age 4.
"That is simply too late," Rosanoff said.
Rosanoff says parents should speak to their doctor right away if they have any concerns about their child's development.
"The earlier we can diagnose autism, the earlier we can get intervention to that child and the better chance they have," Rosanoff said.
Aidan was diagnosed at age 2.
"By a year and a half he was not speaking. He had never called me ma. He had never said mama, never said dada. He had no words whatsoever and I knew that something was wrong," Johanna Burke said.
The Burkes hope the new figures from the CDC will lead to more awareness and resources for families affected by autism.
According to the CDC report, the state of Alabama has the lowest prevalence of autism, with 1 in 175 children diagnosed with the disorder. New Jersey has the highest prevalence with 1 in 45 children diagnosed with autism. But the disparity could be due to different reporting methods used by each state.
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