GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - April is Autism Awareness Month. Currently, one in 68 children is diagnosed on the autism spectrum in the United States, a number that has remained constant for the past decade of significant increases. In 2000, date from the Centers for Disease Control showed one in 150 children had the disease. The cause for the increase is unclear, with improved diagnostic tools accounting for only a portion of the increase.
Autism among East African populations is higher than the general population – showing one in 32 children with autism. Researchers at the University of Minnesota are currently researching the reason behind the disproportion.
St. David’s Center, which serves the Twin Cities metro area and outlying counties, assists nearly 3,000 children and their families in center-based programs and in homes, schools, community centers, shelters and childcare facilities in the community.
By next spring, St. David’s Center will open the Center for Child and Family Wellbeing at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis. The new downtown center will reach at least 200 children, birth to five years of age, and their parents in its first year. Among the numerous services will be the new home for the St. David Center’s day treatment program for young Somali children diagnosed with autism.
Parents should look for these signs of autism in their young children. Diagnosis should be made by age 3.
• Fails to make eye contact, such as looking at you when being fed or smiling when being smiled at.
• Does not respond to his or her name, or to the sound of a familiar voice.
• Does not follow objects visually or follow your gesture when you point things out.
• Does not point or wave goodbye, or use other gestures to communicate.
St. David’s Center provides resources for families and their children with autism. To learn more visit www.stdavidscenter.org or call (952) 939-0396.