SPARTA, Mich. (March 27, 2014) — The Center for Disease Control announced on Thursday that the number of Americans living with autism is higher than ever before. The CDC said that one in every 68 people in the U.S. place somewhere on the autism spectrum. That number is 30 percent higher than just two years ago. Also, males are more likely to be diagnosed at one in every 42.
24-year-old Tom Carlisle suffers from a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, a diagnoses not common when he was born in 1989.
“You know, at the beginning when he was first diagnosed, it was very much ‘it’s your fault he’s this way.’ We’ll what did I do that made it this way? There’s nothing I did,” said Tom’s mother Rhonda Carlisle.
Rhonda and Chris Carlisle said that when Tom was a baby, he didn’t hit certain mile stones, such as saying his first words. Suspecting something was wrong, they reached out to several doctors who told them his illness was behavioral.
Dr. Michael Wolff at the Behavioral Resources and Institute for Neuropsycholical Services said that researchers are finding autism in children that previously might have not been tested.
“I do think the prevalence rate may have increased a little bit. Our culture has changed. We’ve become more technologically based. There’s more environmental factors that might contribute to risk and just the vulnerability of pregnancy itself,” said Dr. Wolff.
The Carlisle’s call their son Tom a blessing, and love him just the way he is. Although bullying became an issue in high school, the family said that soon stopped when the football team took him under their wing.
“So proud of those kids and there was a couple of them that really stood out and really became good friends with Tom. They are now special education teachers because of their connection with Tom, which I think is amazing. There were about three kids in his class that went into special education just because of their association with Tom,” the couple said.