Study finds Missouri below national average for diagnosing autism

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COLUMBIA - A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the national diagnosis rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder for 8-year-old children is one in every 68 kids.

The study also shows Missouri has a lower rate, with one in 87 kids being diagnosed with ASD.

But the lower rate isn't necessarily good news for the state.

Clinical Psychologist Connie Brooks said she thinks a lack of access to services could be the cause of Missouri’s lower diagnosis rate.

“In Missouri, there are several centers of excellence that are providing evaluations, but the waitlists are always much longer than we would like them to be. There doesn’t seem to be an easy fix to that,” Brooks said.

Brooks said training more people could be a solution. 

"With the rate of autism now, we just need many more providers than our educational system can provide," Brooks said. "At the university level, we need to be doing a lot more training and hands-on clinical work for people who want to specialize in autism."

As part of a proclamation, Governor Jay Nixon said, "as the effort to address autism continues, doctors, therapists, and educators can help persons with autism overcome or adjust to its challenges and provide early, accurate diagnosis and the resulting appropriate education, intervention, and therapy."  

Gov. Nixon signed the proclamation that made April 2016 Autism Awareness Month in Missouri.