1 in 47 Utah children has autism, new estimates say

Published: Thursday, March 29 2012 5:55 p.m. MDT

As for study findings, Passey said when she heard the latest statistics — particularly the sharp uptick in the estimated rates of autism, "I just wanted to cry for the families when they got the diagnosis. When you first get this diagnosis it's devastating."

David Patton, executive director of the Utah Department of Health, said he is well aware of the frustrations that families feel. However, the new numbers should help to inform the debate and guide the public response.

"We hope the updated numbers will help communities to better plan for the supports and services families will need. And we'll keep working with our partners to search for risk factors for ASDs, as well as treatments and therapies to help these children achieve their full potential," he said.

Peter Nicholas, director of the Pingree Center, said he's "scared" by the new numbers released Thursday. There are now 150-200 children on the waiting list for the center's preschool program. 

Statistics are one thing, Passey said. The bottom line is, "unless Skylynn gets the services she needs, she will live with us forever," she said.

Passey said she will stand by her daughter in any event, but she wants her to have the services that help her reach her potential.

"I want her to live whatever her dreams are."

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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