PHOENIX -- Eye-opening figures on autism in children were released Thursday. The Center for Disease Control estimates one in 88 American children has some form of autism. That's a 78 percent increase from a decade ago, and boys continue to outnumber girls with the disorder five to one.
One of those boys is Diego Catalan of Glendale. He spends time learning and progressing at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center.
"He's been progressing slow, but he's progressed," says his mother, Sandra Catalan.
She says doctors diagnosed Diego with autism when he was almost 4 years old.
"They gave me tools to start with him," Catalan said. "Now he's 10 years old...he's been doing great."
Diego is one of a growing number of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The CDC's numbers show that one in 88 children are diagnosed with autism. In Arizona, one in 64 children are diagnosed. For Arizona's boys it's 1 in 40, girls one in 185.
"Arizona is fairly progressive in our approach toautism treatment. We also have lots of advocacy here," said Christopher Smith with SARRC.
He feels that's part of the reason for our numbers. He also credits the autism community for spreading awareness. But what would staff at SARRC like parents and doctors take away from this new report? An urgent reminder to not waste time if there's a question about development.
"We know that early identification leads to early intervention and early intensive intervention gives individuals with autism the best opportunity at living fuller, richer, high quality lives," Smith explained.