Autism Expected to Grow in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania first state to conduct autism census

Autism could be on the rise in the Keystone State.

The number of adults and children with autism was expected to rise in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Autism Census Project Final Report released Thursday.

The report is the first of its kind and was conducted to improve the commonwealth's understanding of how many Pennsylvanians have autism, where they live and what needs should be addressed.

"Prior to this study, we had no accurate means to determine how many families were potentially in need of services and support," said Gov. Ed Rendell. "As we worked to determine who these families were and where they lived, our sense that Pennsylvania faces a very real crisis was confirmed."

The rising number of autism cases was larger than originally thought.

The total amount of children and adults with autism was found to be dramatically increasing. It's estimated that a total of 20,000 had autism in 2005 and the report predicted that at least 25,000 cases would be reported by next year.

Adults saw the most intense increase in newly reported cases. It was estimated that 1,400 adults were autistic in 2005. That number nearly tripled to 3,800 estimated cases in 2010 and would go up even more to about 10,000 by 2015, according to the study.

The most people with autism were found in Allegheny, Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties, said the study.

These findings allow the government to identify where specific programs and services are needed based on where the highest number of people in the state are affected by autism.

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