Last month the CDC released eye-opening new numbers on the prevalence of autism, showing a significant increase in 8-year-old children identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The new research, along with greater awareness surrounding ASD, indicates autism diagnoses could be on the rise.

“My son Bodhi was diagnosed about a year ago and I wasn’t particularly surprised by the diagnosis, but realized very quickly that I didn’t know all of the things that I felt like I should,” says Tucson mother Sara Selby.

Selby and her son Bodhiwho turned 14 earlier this weekare now getting help with through the Autism Society of Southern Arizona.

That’s KGUN 9’s Giving Project non-profit for the month of April.


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According to the CDC, the average age of an autism diagnosis in the U.S. is just under 4-and-a-half, although Bodhi’s ASD diagnosis at age 12 is not unusual.

“But it was helpful to get the diagnosis. It was a way that we could understand him and everything that makes him who he is.”

The new CDC data shows the prevalence of autism is higher.

Researchers for the study looked specifically at 8-year-olds from the years 2018 to 2020their work provided a snapshot showing autism rates rose from 1-in-44 to 1-in-36 children within the population sample.

Experts say there are many factors for the rise in numbers.

Officials with the Autism Society in Tucson look at it this way, “It doesn’t seem that there’s a rise in autism as much as there’s a rise in the awareness and diagnosis,” says Kate Elliott, executive director of the Autism Society of Southern Arizona. “So that’s a good thing. That means that we are getting people the support that they need early on.”

In addition to leading her organization, Elliott is also a mother of two children with autism. She says early intervention is key to supporting kids so they can feel supported.

“It’s really great that the awareness and acceptance campaigns are working so that we have, we’ve done good work and we have a lot more work to do,” Elliott says.

This AprilAutism Acceptance MonthKGUN 9 is reaching out to the community through our Giving Project to support the work at the Autism Society of Southern Arizona.

We invite you to donate to the autism society by visiting the Giving Project section of our website.