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Views on autism have changed in 22 years since first surveying for the condition

The autism puzzle [shutterstock / iQoncept]
The autism puzzle [shutterstock / iQoncept]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started surveying for Autism in the year 2000.

Over the course of those 2 decades - the rates of autism diagnoses have jumped from 1 in 150 persons during that first year of surveying - to 1 in 44, in the most recent set of data.

This increased rate can be credited to a number of reasons - ranging from the actual clinical definition of autism shifting, to how testing for autism, has changed.

That shift in recent decades also means resources for individuals with autism are shifting - and in many ways improving.

Educators are able to become more specialized in how they may recognize autism in students; and in how they adapt to varied learning needs. Employers are better able to place employees who are diagnosed as neurodivergent, or as being on the spectrum.

That last word - spectrum - is an important one to note, as not all individuals with autism face the same diagnoses, or require the same resources.

It is also important to note that increasing numbers of professionals are trying to get away from the use of that phrase, as its meaning has been diluted, and is now often used to describe a person with social tics and/or awkwardness - regardless any true diagnosis - and that can hurt people who actually were diagnosed.

There are those who have been diagnosed using the terms of 'spectrum', who are non-verbal, those who will require assistance their entire lives, and those who never knew they were autistic - until adulthood.

Today on the program, we will spend the full hour learning of the changing perspectives on Autism -- by hearing directly from individuals with autism, some of them in that last category -- recently diagnosed.

We will also hear how one local organization who mission has gone national, Milestones Autism Resources, has been helping that community for 20 years - and is marking that anniversary this week.

Milestones Autism Resources

- Maria Davis Pierre, Founder and CEO, Autism in Black

- Carly Millis Jalowiec, Education Assistant, Milestones

- Nathan Morgan, Program Manager: Early Intervention and Autistic Supports, Milestone

- Charlotte Kennerly, Mother to an autistic child, Intervention Specialist at Cleveland Metropolitan School District

- Ilana Hoffer Skoff, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Milestones

- Laurie Cramer, Executive Director, Autism Society of Greater Akron

- Beth Thompson, Program Director, Milestones

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.