By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- On Thursday, the Center for Disease Control released new numbers on autism. Again, autism is on the rise.
The Midland Independent School District says that our population boom has brought in more autistic kids. Now, they're re-structuring our classrooms to handle it.
Five year-old Kaius Barker is just learning how to speak and the words are limited. Three and a half years ago, he faded away from the boy his parents knew.
Mother Crystal Barker says, "He was talking and using some words and babbling with eye contact. And then he regressed and lost it all."
Kaius was diagnosed with autism. His two year-old brother, Kasen, has not shown any signs. Their mother says that in Midland, their family is not alone.
"I can't go anywhere without meeting somebody who knows somebody with autism or has a child with autism," Barker said.
The CDC tracks the number of kids in the U.S. diagnosed with the disorder. In 2006, 1 in 110 were diagnosed with autism. Today, 1 in 88 are diagnosed.
Diagnoses are on the rise. With the population going up, one of basin's growing pains is dealing with the massive influx of autistic students.
MISD Autism Facilitator Terrye Childers says, "[There's] definitely an increase. We have approximately 150 students with autism in MISD at this time."
10 years ago, they had less than 50 of these students.
With so many more autistic students and each being so radically different, MISD has had to create individualized education plans for each.
"We have an autism team made up of speech-language pathologists, diagnosticians, etc," Childers said.
That team is already formulating plans to grow and provide new resources.
Pediatrician Dr. Sari Nabulsi says the growth in autism numbers, coupled with recent fears over immunizations, are worsening an already complicated situation.
"There have been many studies that are very conclusive that there's no correlation between autism and vaccinations," Nabulsi said .
Nabulsi claims tying the two together is just creating a population of kids within the growing school district who are more susceptible to transmitting and receiving illnesses.
The "Walk Now for Autism Speaks" will be held in Odessa on Saturday, April 28th. For more information, visit: www.walknowforautism.org/westtexas