Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Opinion: New York's Role in Treating Autism

From The Albany Times Union, a column by Dr. Terry Hamlin, chief of staff at The Center for Discovery in Harris, Sullivan County, and head of the Discovery School for children with autism.

The numbers released late last month by the Centers for Disease Control showing a significant increase in the prevalence of autism among children are sure to cause alarm and controversy. With 1 in every 88 children now being diagnosed with autism, we are confronted with what amounts to an epidemic and the greatest public health threat to our children, outpacing obesity and diabetes.
However, with obesity and diabetes, at least we know the general causes, we have good medical diagnostics and measures and we can formulate viable solutions. But with autism, we are mostly in the dark. We have yet to ascertain its origins. There there is no real consensus as to whether autism is one of nature versus nurture — genetic or environmental — or a combination of both.
The only thing that educators and service providers agree on is that there is a growing population of very different children in our schools and in our communities who require very different supports from what we have available, especially for the more severely affected.

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