COLUMBIA, Mo. - A new study shows 1 in 68 children are now diagnosed with autism.
That is an increase from 1 in 88 since 2008.
No one still knows exactly what causes autism, but some have theories as to why it is increasing.
The new study comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new numbers show almost every grade in every elementary school in the U.S. has at least one child with autism.
This is a significant finding for a syndrome that was nearly unheard of a generation ago.
Heather Cleek, a mother of three had a feeling her youngest was not developing like the others had.
After several tests her child was diagnosed with autism.
Since then she has seen tremendous progress with his development because of the help of therapy treatments.
"I'm not really concerned if they find a cause or a cure for it. I'm more about what can we do to make his life the quality of life he wants and that we want for him," said Heather Cleek.
Cleek told ABC 17 News she sees awareness as a possible reason for the new numbers.
"As a society we are becoming more aware so its easier to I think help a child blend more naturally with everyday society," said Cleek.
Autism Speaks Chief Science Officers Robert Ring says, "If we're going to make a direct and meaningful impact in the lives of these children, reducing the average age of diagnosis must be a priority moving forward."
Heather Cleek's son was diagnosed at two but the average age is still around four-years-old.
Doctors believe a diagnosis should happen as young as possible so children can receive intensive early intervention.
Cleek told ABC 17 News that Missouri is fortunate to have so many autism resources.
"We have individuals who have really great tools to diagnose kids, and I think we are getting better at the diagnosis part. As that happens we are also getting better at intervention," said Cleek.
Columbia is home to the Thompson Center at the University of Missouri which is a national leader in autism research and services.
Autism awareness day is April 2.
The Cleek's 11th annual bowling for Autism tournament is April 5th.
You can register here.
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