iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK)-- More children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Their new numbers now show that autism affects one in 59 children, an increase from previously reported one in 68 children.
Dr. Walter Zahorodny, a pediatrician and autism researcher, is "stunned by the speed of increase."
This data was collected in 2014 through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, an organization described by the study's authors as "an active surveillance system that provides estimates of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children aged 8 years."
In this study, the ADDM Network first identified over 10,000 children with symptoms of ASD in 11 states. A team of researchers and experts in the field then reviewed their medical and school records since birth, confirming an autism diagnosis in 5,473 children. This extremely thorough approach limited confusion and ensured accurate and consistent diagnoses and results. Part of the difficulty in autism research is that there isn't a medical "test" that determines if a child falls on the autism disorder spectrum -- it's an evaluation based on observation, so reliable numbers have been historically difficult to guarantee.
The overall prevalence of autism was 16.8 per 1,000 children, or 1.68 percent, according to the study. This number varied between different states. The state with the lowest rate was Arkansas at 13.1 per 1,000 children. The state with highest rate was New Jersey at 29.3 in 1,000 children. There's no reason given for regional variation.
Zahorodny, the lead researcher at the New Jersey site, states “3 percent is a real landmark, given that we started at 1 percent autism prevalence 14 years ago.”
These rates of autism are significantly higher than those in the last study from ADDM, which looked at a similar number of young children in 2012. This new study looked at exactly the same six locations that participated in 2012, and in these sites, the 2014 autism rates were 20 percent higher than they were in 2012.
Historically, the rate of autism in white children is 20-30 percent greater than black children and 50-70 percent greater than Hispanic children. In agreement with that previous data, autism was more common in white children, although there was a significant increase in the diagnosis in black and Hispanic children, with the prevalence in white children only 7 percent greater than in black children and 22 percent greater than in Hispanic children. In agreement with past studies, autism was about four times more common in boys.
One outlier: There was virtually no difference in autism rates between white, black, and Hispanic children in New Jersey. The authors argue that perhaps New Jersey's overall higher autism prevalence is related to the more inclusive diagnosis of minority children, and therefore might be the most accurate rate in the study.
This study is not intended to be representative of the entire country. There are clear limitations, primarily because the data originated from only 11 collection sites. In addition, there were discrepancies in the amount and type of medical and educational data that was recorded from state to state. The data in this study is only as accurate as the information that was documented by physicians, counselors, and schools.
Why are more children than ever diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder?
The short answer: We don't know.
The cause of autism is still unknown. There are associations between autism and prematurity, advanced parental age, and genetics -- however no evidence of causation, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). There's also a lot of discussion about potential environmental causes, yet again, there's no science to support these claims (the claim that vaccines cause autism has been disproven by the AAP time and time again).
To be diagnosed on the spectrum, a child must have three key characteristics: delayed language development, abnormal, repetitive behaviors, and difficulty socializing. Children with autism can have stereotypical behaviors such as rocking, spinning, hand-flapping, and toe-walking. They can also have difficulty making eye contact or playing with other children.
It's important to know that there are many children that are NOT on the spectrum who may display these behaviors. The diagnosis of autism is made by looking at a child's development, language, and behavior as a whole. If you have concerns about your child, you should speak with a pediatrician.
As the name implies, there's a wide range in severity. While many children are able to do well in school and make friends with minimal assistance, others may need significant speech and behavioral therapy to function. Which brings us to the treatment of autism: Therapy, therapy, and more therapy.
There's no cure for autism, but certain types of therapies have been proven to improve a child's ability to function in the real world.
One of the most alarming findings in this new study is the widespread delayed diagnosis of autism. The median age of diagnosis was 52 months, just over 4 years. Children with autism should be diagnosed by 3 years old and receive appropriate therapies by 4 years old, according to Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 goals.
We are diagnosing most children too late, according to these numbers.
"We need to have strong concerted efforts toward universal autism screening," Zahorodny said in response to this data. The AAP states that all children should be screened for autism by their primary care provider at 18 months and again at 24 months.
Is autism really becoming more common?
It's unclear if this rise in autism is due to an increase in diagnosis or an increase in the actual prevalence of autism. Some scientists argue that physicians are doing a better job at diagnosing autism, particularly in minority populations, and that's why the autism numbers are up.
Thomas Frazier, the chief science officer at Autism Speaks, feels "there is a meaningful increase."
Both Frazier and Zahorodny agree that while the increase in diagnosis is contributing to the prevalence, it cannot be the only cause. It seems the increase in autism is significant enough that many psychologists and pediatricians worry we're missing a piece of this puzzle.
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has crossed the line dividing the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in what's being described as a historic summit.
The two leaders shook hands at the Military Demarcation Line dividing the North from the South, smiling, chatting and posing for photos together. Holding hands, they crossed the line together. Shortly after, two children from South Korea presented Kim with flowers, which the North Korean leader passed to his sister, Kim Yo Jong.
Escorted by traditional music, Moon and Kim walked together to where the opening ceremony is prepared.
It's the first time leaders of the two countries have met since 2007 and is part of a recent thawing of relations as South Korea and the United States have focused on diplomacy in their efforts to dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
The summit has been in the works for some time, with the stage being set by two previous meetings between high-level North and South officials, as well as the North's participation in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, earlier this year, where the two marched under a united flag.
The meeting is also a precursor to U.S. President Donald Trump's own announced meeting with Kim, which is expected to take place next month or in early June, though Trump cast doubt on it Thursday.
"It could be that I walk out quickly -- with respect, but it could be. It could be that maybe the meeting doesn't even take place. Who knows?" Trump told Fox News' "Fox & Friends."
The U.S. and North Korea have narrowed down the location to five possibilities, according to Trump, with three or four dates in the running. One senior U.S. official previously told ABC News that Trump had ruled out China and that it was highly unlikely Kim would agree to meet in the U.S. or Trump to meet in North Korea.
Possible venues include Europe -- like Switzerland, where Kim went to university, or Sweden, the U.S.'s protecting power in North Korea -- South Asia, and the DMZ between North and South Korea.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Michael Masters/Getty Images(SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.) -- Controversy surrounds Milo Yiannopoulos' speech this evening at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, after the school was at the center of multiple racially charged incidents in recent weeks.
The Cal Poly College Republicans Club is hosting the "Fake News Panel" Thursday evening, which will include YouTube personalities Austin Fletcher and Carl Benjamin in addition to Yiannopoulos, said Matt Lazier, media relations director for the university.
A major police presence is expected at the sold-out event. In a statement, the university disassociated itself from the event, saying that it "is being presented by the club, not by the university."
"The university understands that the participants in the panel discussion are personalities that some members of our campus community may find offensive," said Lazier. "However, as a public university, Cal Poly is required to uphold free speech rights and provide an open forum for a variety of opinions, thoughts and ideas -- even those that may be distasteful or offensive."
Two of the university's professors expressed concern over Yiannopoulos' appearance in the current racially charged climate after photos emerged showing fraternity members in blackface and dressed as gang members, and racist posters were seen around campus. This is the second time Yiannopoulos has spoken at Cal Poly in less than two years, with his most recent appearance being January 2017.
Dr. Jose Navarro, an assistant professor in the university's ethnic studies department, told ABC News that he believes the sponsors of the panel event "implicitly endorse Yiannopoulos' Islamophobic, anti-feminist, alt-right and generally hateful positions."
"Indeed, it seems like the strategy of covert racists and bigots on campus to have such views disseminated by proxy," he said in an email to ABC News. "Inviting Milo to speak on campus, in short, is a way to get him to espouse the very ideas they believe without actually having to espouse those ideas publicly themselves, and then be held accountable by the campus community for their racism, bigotry and misogyny."
Dr. Neal MacDougall, a professor in the university's agribusiness department, called the club's decision to hold the panel at such a sensitive time "incredibly hurtful" and that it sends the message that "it really doesn't matter what students of color feel."
A Tribune Media report published last week found that Cal Poly has "the least racially diverse student population" among California's public universities. In 2017, 54.8 percent of the university's student body identified as white, which is the highest percentage of any public university in the state, according to the report.
Following the blackface incident, Cal Poly University President Jeffrey Armstrong said in a forum attended by nearly 1,000 students on April 12 that racism was not an issue at Cal Poly.
"I don't believe we have a culture that is racist," he said in the video, which was posted to the university's Facebook page. "I believe we have had some incidents that are awful and we are working very hard to get at the root cause and help people understand."
MacDougall said he "couldn't believe" the president's comments and added that Armstrong needs to address that "racism is a problem" at the university in order to improve the community in the long run.
"There is, in fact, a culture of racism of Cal Poly," MacDougall told ABC News.
Navarro said that while Armstrong deserves "some credit" for increasing the diversity of the student body, "nevertheless, the Cal Poly student body remains the whitest and wealthiest of any California public university."
"Simply put: if we do not create greater access to higher education for our major base of Californians (Latinos and other minorities), then they will not get high-wage jobs," he said. "The result of which will be that we will not be able to tax this base enough to replenish the coffers in the state that fund our universities and other public infrastructure."
The Cal Poly College Republicans did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
Racially charged posters seen on campus
On the morning of April 17, MacDougall came into his office in the agribusiness department to find a multitude of racially charged messages, he said.
The first thing he said he noticed when he arrived was a university police officer standing in front of a men's bathroom. The officer instructed him to not use the last stall, he said. A maintenance worker later told him that someone had written the "N-word" on the wall, he said. A student of MacDougall's colleague snapped a photo of the graffiti before it was cleaned up, he added.
Later, MacDougall said he noticed that several racist posters had been put up on bulletin boards near his office, and messages of inclusion that were already there had been defaced.
Among the racist material was a flier with a bullet list referring to "species and subspecies," which purported to prove that people who are not white are "not human," he said. Maps were also posted that were said to show a "correlation" of a higher concentration of rape where there's darker people, such as Africa, as well as a higher rate of potential homicides where there are lower IQs, which also used darker skin tones as a factor, he said.
MacDougall snapped photos of the material and posted them to his Facebook page later that day. University police at first said they would send someone, but they never did, instead instructing MacDougall to take the posters down, he said.
In addition, messages of inclusion, including a sign that stated MacDougall was an "unafraid educator" who works "with and for undocumented students & families," were slashed.
Armstrong responded to findings, saying he was "disgusted to report that there have been a variety of inappropriate and hateful actions on campus in recent days, from slurs being directed at students, to offensive graffiti and postings in or on our facilities."
"These activities are the desperate work of a few who would seek to spread hate and divide us at a vulnerable time," he said. "Our strongest response in the face of this rhetoric is to come together as one with the common goal of eradicating hatred from our community." Campus Greek life suspended over photos showing blackface
Armstrong has indefinitely suspended sororities and fraternities on campus as a result of photos surfacing showing a fraternity member in blackface and others dressed as gang members.
But Armstrong said he decided not to take action against individual students because it was their First Amendment right to express their views, he said in a video statement posted to Facebook.
Navarro said that he believes students and organizations who engage in "actions and speech that is severe or persistent enough to create a hostile environment for other students, staff and faculty based on race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexuality, age, etc., ought to be suspended or expelled."
"Indeed, I think the current issues related to free speech and the hostile environments they create raise an important constitutional question -- one that requires us to ask whether the right to free speech is greater than the right to equal protection and access to education," Navarro said.
Navarro said the students at Cal Poly are "unprepared for engaging in an incredibly diverse population" and that the university's lack of diversity will impress upon students an ignorance of diversity in the real world.
"If all Cal Poly students know about people different from themselves is filtered through stereotypes of these other people that are rendered on television or the internet, they might perform those same stereotypes in blackface or dressed up as Latino gang members," he said.
Alex Edelman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An aide to Speaker Paul Ryan Thursday refused to say exactly why he forced the House chaplain to resign last week but Democrats contend his dismissal is due to a prayer Father Patrick Conroy delivered last year as lawmakers prepared to begin consideration of tax reform – irking Republicans.
While a senior GOP leadership aide maintains that “there was not a specific prayer” that led to Ryan’s decision to request Conroy’s resignation, Democrats point to his prayer November 6, when he warned members to “be mindful” of economic disparities among social classes, and cautioned legislators not to pick “winners and losers under new tax laws.”
“As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all Members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle,” Conroy prayed in the House chamber. “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
A Democratic aide also further asserted that “some of the more conservative evangelical Republicans didn’t like that the Father had invited a Muslim person to give the opening prayer.”
A Ryan aide refused to comment on the specific reasons Ryan demanded Conroy’s resignation.
The story was first reported by Roll Call.
Conroy’s resignation letter, read on the House floor last week, states it was requested by Ryan.
“As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives,” Conroy wrote April 15. “It has been an honor to serve the People’s House for these nearly seven years. After a mutual consideration, it is determined my final day will be 24 May 2018.”
A senior House GOP aide and a senior Pelosi aide say Leader Pelosi was consulted throughout the personnel decision.
“The speaker consulted with the minority leader, but the decision was his,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said. “He remains grateful for Father Conroy’s service.”
A Pelosi aide says she “made it clear to the Speaker that she had only received positive comments about Father Conroy’s service from Members,” and “also made it clear to Speaker Ryan that she disagreed with this decision.”
Conroy, a Jesuit priest, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He was appointed by former House Speaker John Boehner in 2011.
ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua(NEW YORK) -- Thanks to her daughter Olympia, Tennis star Serena Williams says she's now more motivated than ever when she returns to the court.
"I'm having the best time as a mom," Williams told Good Morning America's Robin Roberts. "I just walked out and was giving her extra hugs and extra kisses."
The 23-time Grand Slam winner said Olympia brings out "patience in me."
"And I love that about her," she added.
Williams welcomed her daughter on September 1, 2017, along with husband Alexis Ohanian, whom she wed in November 2017.
In her new HBO docu-series, Being Serena, Williams gives fans unprecedented access to some of the most intimate moments over her whirlwind past year. She said she hopes Olympia will be able to look back at the series when she is older.
"When I was younger my dad ... always shot video of myself and our whole family," Williams said. "I wanted to do the same thing for Olympia. And I wanted to start with, you know, her in my belly."
"I wanted to just kind of shoot some stuff," she added. "So one day I would be able to go back ... and show her."
Williams added that the series offers fans a look at a side of her life they may not have seen before.
"When I'm on the court, that's not necessarily me. That's just my tennis two hours of the day," she said. "There's the mom, I can say now. There's the wife, I can say now."
"It's just me," she added. "It's just Serena. I'm just being myself."
Being Serena premieres on HBO Wednesday, May 2 at 10 p.m. ET, with new episodes airing every Wednesday.
Oswell Family Handou(NEW YORK) -- The family of a South Carolina woman who died after suffering a medical emergency midflight is now suing American Airlines alleging wrongful death.
Brittany Oswell, 25, suffered an embolism while flying from Honolulu, Hawaii to Dallas, Texas two years ago. The lawsuit claims the flight crew never attempted to make an emergency landing and that the onboard medical equipment was faulty.
The lawsuit claims Oswell’s husband, Cory, paged the flight attendants on American Flight 102 about three hours into the trip after she became “dizzy and disoriented” and then fainted. The flight attendants then found a doctor among the other passengers who could further examine Oswell, who at that point was believed to have suffered a panic attack, according to the lawsuit.
Several hours later, the flight attendants found Oswell on the floor of one of the plane’s lavatories after her husband flagged them down, according to the lawsuit. She had vomited and defecated on herself in the lavatory, the lawsuit states, and the attendants and her husband proceeded to “render assistance.”
The lawsuit alleges that the doctor on the flight told the crew they needed to immediately divert the plane to the nearest airport so that Oswell could receive proper medical care. But with about 90 minutes left until their arrival in Dallas and after a call with a physician who was not on board, the pilots chose not to follow the doctor’s request, according to the lawsuit.
At some point, Oswell’s breathing and pulse stopped, the lawsuit states. The doctor and flight attendants attempted to use a defibrillator on Oswell three times, but the lawsuit claims “no shock was administered.” The two blood pressure cuffs on the plane also failed, according to the lawsuit. The flight crew, after again consulting the on-call physician not on board, decided to continue to Dallas with about 45 minutes left until arrival, the lawsuit states.
Those assisting Oswell performed CPR on her for the remainder of the trip, according to the lawsuit.
Oswell was transported to Baylor Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with anoxic brain damage and an acute embolism, the lawsuit states. She never regained consciousness after her pulse stopped on the flight and was taken off life support on April 18, 2016, three days after being admitted to the hospital, according to the lawsuit.
Tina Starks, Oswell’s mother, told ABC News she believes American Airlines should have diverted the flight as soon as Oswell was observed in a distressed state.
“We absolutely felt like this was not taken very seriously,” Starks said. “She’s no longer here to do anything with us and it’s all because someone made a business decision to keep flying a plane when she needed emergency medical help that they could not provide because of inadequacies on board the flight."
“One person makes a decision and it changes our whole life, our outcome, everything,” said Chris Starks, Oswell’s father.
American Airlines, in a statement to ABC News about the lawsuit, said: "We take the safety of our passengers very seriously and we are looking into the details of the complaint."
iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Two former NFL cheerleaders who are suing the league for discrimination said they are not in it for the money.
Former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Kristan Ware and former New Orleans Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis are offering to end their discrimination cases for just $1 a piece if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and league lawyers would agree to a meeting.
"This was never about money for me," Davis told ABC News. "This is about having respect for our sport and standing up for our sport and standing up for women."
If they were to meet with Goodell, the women said they hope to address the list of concerns from dozens of cheerleaders, which include allegations of harassment from fans, low pay, long hours and strict rules on everything from weight to social media use.
"They could ignore us or listen to us and then do nothing -- and I understand that risk," said Sara Blackwell, the women's lawyer. "But I hope they have a real legitimate discussion with us, because I feel like we are on the same side."
Ware, a Dolphins cheerleader for three seasons beginning in 2014, said she felt compelled to quit a couple of weeks prior to the end of her contract in spring 2017 because she felt "she was just not accepted on the team if she was a Christian," according to the complaint filed this month with the Florida State Labor Board.
Ware says in the complaint that although she was co-captain of the cheerleading team and a fan favorite, she suffered harassment from some representatives of the squad because of her social media postings about her faith. She claims her decision to remain a virgin until marriage also adversely affected her.
Ware contends that problems began after she posted a photo of her April 10, 2016, baptism on her public Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages.
Ware said she had not publicized her decision to wait to have sex until marriage but that the topic had come up months earlier, in fall of 2015, during a conversation with fellow Dolphins cheerleaders in front of other staff.
The Dolphins responded to Ware's complaint in a statement to ABC News on April 13: “We are seriously committed to providing a positive work environment for everyone associated with the organization. We hold every member of our organization to the same standards and do not discriminate as it relates to gender, race and religious beliefs.”
Ware alleges in her complaint that in her annual tryout-interview in spring 2016, she was told her she was "not allowed to speak about anything related to her virginity to anyone" and that she "needed to develop into a woman."
A few months later, in September 2016, the cheerleading director and coaches told the co-captains, captains and some other cheerleaders that they could change their Instagram accounts to Dolphin Instagram accounts "under certain conditions," Ware alleges in the complaint, adding that they were told that on their Dolphin Instagram accounts they were to talk about "fashion and fitness and cheerleading."
Ware claims that when she said she wanted to continue to "share her faith, post Bible verses and to be a role model for little girls" on Instagram, she was told by one of the coaches that "you cannot be 'too much. You cannot mention Jesus or anything like that.'"
The complaint further alleges that a month after the discussion about Instagram, the cheerleading director became physically aggressive with Ware at a fashion show for the Dolphins.
Ware said her breaking point came in April 2017 after she was asked by the Dolphins to write a motivational blog post for women trying out for the cheerleading team, and some of her allusions to her faith in the post were removed.
"I was told that I wasn't allowed to mention God, and what really broke my heart is seeing how public football players can be about their faith," Ware told ABC News.
"Dolphin football players are allowed to maintain and express their faith in any way," the complaint alleges. "Several players prayed on the 50-yard line before a game. They profess their faith online, on social media, to fellow players, to the public."
Ware's allegations followed a complaint filed in March by Davis, who was with the New Orleans Saints cheering squad.
Davis alleges in her complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that she was fired on Jan. 23, 2018, for posting a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a one-piece bodysuit, breaking a rule that prohibits cheerleaders from posting revealing images on social media, a rule that her complaint says does not apply to men.
"The players can post whatever they want on social media. … They can post shirtless and in the gym," Davis told ABC News. "We can't post in lingerie or a semi-nude, and it's discriminating because for women to do that, it's seen as something sexual, but when a guy does it, it's seen as athletic."
The Saints deny that Davis was discriminated against because she is female.
"The New Orleans Saints is an equal opportunity employer, and denies that Ms. Davis was discriminated against because she is female," the NFL organization said in a statement to ABC News. "The Saints will defend these allegations in due course and in the appropriate forum, and the organization is confident that its policies and workplace rules will withstand legal scrutiny.”
In response to the recent cheerleader complaints, the NFL told ABC News in a statement, "The NFL and all NFL member clubs support fair employment practices. Everyone who works in the NFL, including cheerleaders, has the right to work in a positive and respectful environment that is free from any and all forms of harassment and discrimination, and fully complies with state and federal laws. Our office will work with our clubs in sharing best practices and employment-related processes that will support club cheerleading squads within an appropriate and supportive workplace."
The league has until May 4 to accept or reject the deal proposed by Ware and Davis.
"I don't think that anyone has to say, 'I was wrong' or 'I'm sorry,'" Blackwell said in regards to her clients. "I don't care about any of that. My clients don't care about that. What we want is change."
The NFL declined to comment in regards to the offer.