A recent report by the Center for Disease Control found the one in 68 children now suffer from an autism spectrum disorder. That's a 30 percent increase from two years ago when it was one in 88.
The new estimate is based on a 2010 pool of data from eight year olds in 11 different states, including Alabama, Wisconsin, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah and New Jersey.
"That rate of increase is significantly higher than other disability category," autism specialist Dr. Patricia McDaid said.
The question some medical professionals are asking is why?
So far there's not a definitive answer.
Advancement in autism intervention has changed the prognosis from negative to hopeful but still no cause and effect has been determined. What we do know is there are genetic predispositions that come into play. We also know autism is five times more common in boys than girls and if you have one child with autism it's more likely any additional children will also have the disorder.
The number of school aged children in Alaska has increased from just over 200 in the '02-'03 school year to more than 1000 in the 2012-2013 school year. McDaid says the one behavior that stands out most in an autistic child is the lack of development in speech.
"One of the theories is that because of the elasticity of the young developing brains we are able to see significant changes in children," McDaid said. "They are able to learn to speak, they are able to learn to manage their behavior and function normally in the world."
This gives parents and children hope and it keeps the prognosis positive.