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Autism Diagnosis Numbers Rise in Oklahoma, Services Availability Insufficient

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the number of Oklahoma children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder has risen significantly over the past decade.

In 2010, Oklahoma was estimated to have 3,062 children ages 3 to 21 identified as having Autism. That number has risen drastically from 2002, when those reported in the same age group was 844.

Oklahoma Autism Network Director René Daman tells Emily Summars with eCapitol added diagnoses and improvements in the screening process contribute to the increase.

"We have better awareness nationally and in Oklahoma because there have been so many efforts," Daman says. "We have screenings for all children. Those things contribute to it [the increase in numbers] but the bottom line is: we're seeing more kids."

A survey published in May by the Oklahoma Family and Interagency Autism Council shows a shortage of care providers. The Oklahoma Autism Needs Assessment Survey shows about 40 percent of caregivers reported they or a partner stopped working outside of the home and their partners work hours fluctuated.  

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