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New numbers show more children with autism

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: New numbers show more children with autism
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The government released revised numbers on autism this week. They show that many more children are being diagnosed as autistic. YNN's Andrew Sorensen tells us about that, other new developments for the autistic community, and what some local groups are doing to help.

UTICA, N.Y.--Sitting on the end of his preschool class is Joseph Cavalier. He's four and he has two very proud parents.

"My son is extremely smart. He loves to run around and get into everything. He loves hugs and kisses and he loves to be at school," Joseph's mother, Diane Cavalier said.

Despite Joseph's autism, he fits in with his class very well. They're all autistic.

"If they're given the supports to be successful, they'll do really, really well in school, and at home and in family life," Kelberman Center Executive Director Robert Myers said.

That's what Myers said the Kelberman Center provides for people of all ages with autism.

"The hallmark symptoms of autism are impaired social communication and social skills," Myers explained.

Those are almost non-issues when you look at Joseph and his well behaved classmates, but it wasn't always that way.

"We couldn't even walk him to a car. We had to hold him like a baby just to get anywhere, his sensory processing was totally different," Cavalier said.

There are a lot more parents like Joseph's who are likely looking at places like the center, according to a new government study.

In 2007, the CDC said one in 88 kids had autism.

"What it showed was the numbers increased to one in 50," Myers said.

Finding out they could have more people to help, couldn't come at a worse time for Myers.

"There's large cuts in the governor's budget to people with autism. There's the potential cuts related to the sequestration," he said.

They anticipate a cut between three and six percent. For Myers, that drives his sense of purpose.

"We really are on a mission here to create best practice programs, to be the model for New York State, and really need families and supporters to support us during Autism Awareness Month," he said.

Joseph's parents said the new numbers alone could be a sign of more awareness, but they'll always keep pushing for more so kids like Joseph are treated normally everywhere.

The Kelberman Center is holding six autism walks across Oneida and Otsego Counties in April.

You can find for information about dates and fundraising at kelbermancenter.org.

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