New Autism Study: A Local Lubbock Family and Expert Say Early Intervention is Key

Published 03/27 2014 11:53PM

Updated 03/28 2014 12:07AM

By Anne Parker

(Lubbock, TX)- A new study released Thursday by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows one in every 68 kids has autism.

This is up 29 percent from 2008, and 62 percent from 2006.

The CDC used data from 2010 to get their new estimates which shows one in 42 boys and one in 189 girls fall somewhere on the autism spectrum, which, according to a Texas Tech expert, points out that autism is getting recognized.

"He has such a good attitude about it he doesn't really know any different," says Angela Westfall, mother of a 10-year-old autistic boy, John.

John Westfall is just like any other 4th grade boy who loves video games and fights with his little sister.

But at the early age of two, his day care teacher noticed something was a little different.

"She came to me one day and said you know John just isn't talking like the other kids, he's way behind, he really wants to sit off by himself and sort of do his own thing," Angela said.

"With autism if you can start intervention between three and six, thats associated with the best outcomes later in life," says Autism expert at Texas Tech's Burkhart Center, Wes Dotson.

Dotson says there is no question the rate of autism is increasing,  but luckily for kids like John, it's is probably all related to awareness.

"We're doing a better job of saying we need to see this in children younger, we need to do the screening earlier, and recognizing that early intervention in autism is the vital piece," he said.

John was officially diagnosed at age three and the Westfalls say early intervention was everything.

"We were very blessed to have people that were in John's  life that knew what to look for," Angela said.

While Dotson was surprised by the one in 68 number from the CDC new study, " more and more people become aware of what autism is we would expect to see an increase in prevalence because more and more people are referring children to be diagnosed to have the disorder."

Even though John's mom says some days are hard to watch him struggle, they wouldn't change anything for the world.

"We wouldn't wish him to be any other way you know if he weren't autistic he wouldn't be our kid and he wouldn't have the personality that he has." 

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