1 in 166 children under age 10 are affected by autism

New statistics surrounding autism make it the number one growing developmental disability in the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates as many as one in 166 children under age 10 are affected by the disorder. Nearly two million people in the U.S. are living with autism.

Autism is a highly complex neurodevelopmental disorder affecting sensory and motor systems, speech and language acquisition and communication and social skills. Children with autism face enormous challenges in interacting with others and engaging in the world around them.

Each child with an autistic spectrum disorder presents a unique constellation of features, and, not surprisingly, not one treatment method is equally effective in all autistic children for all features of the disorder. While there is no cure for autism, research shows children who receive intensive, early intervention make marked progress; some eventually overcome autism's disabling characteristics.

The McCarton Foundation for Developmental Disabilities, the parent organization of the McCarton School, is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to increasing the availability of early intervention and educational services for children diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Cecelia McCarton, MD, is among the nation's leading experts in diagnosing and treating children with developmental disorders. She is founder and executive director of The McCarton Center for Developmental Pediatrics, a diagnostic and treatment center dedicated to childhood developmental disorders, and The McCarton School, serving children with autism and autistic spectrum disorders.

"Autism has reached epidemic proportions. The amount of money set aside by the federal government for autism research, although it has increased, is still not in proportion to the number of children afflicted by the disorder," McCarton said. "In 2004, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent $257 per person with multiple sclerosis, $4066 per person with cystic fibrosis, $7500 per person with leukemia, but only $66 per person afflicted with autism. The disproportion in government funding must be corrected if we are to make progress with this disorder."

The McCarton School, located in Manhattan, applies a patented Integrated Education Model that draws from scientifically based best practices in the field, giving each child an individual education plan. The Integrated Model combines aspects of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB), Natural Environmental Teaching (NET), speech and language therapy, motor skills training, sensory integration therapy and play and socialization with peers.

"Our model melds the best and most child-appropriate elements from each of these approaches in order to produce natural and spontaneous behaviors and language," McCarton said. "The resulting individual program maximizes the prospects for reaching the child's broadest and fullest developmental potential."

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