In Columbia, The State reports:
State officials have seen a 14 percent jump in the number of people seeking help for autism because of a change in the official definition of the disorder.
The American Psychiatric Association updated its definition of autism in the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to include Asperger syndrome and some cases of pervasive developmental disorder. That new definition made a new population eligible to receive services from the state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs.
“It’s a very good thing because these people are the ones who have kind of fallen through the cracks,” said Kim Thomas, president of the Autism Society of South Carolina. “It gives them hope that there can be services for them.”
Statewide, more than 6,500 people have applied for autism-related services from the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. Of those, about 920 are eligible because of the new definition for autism, said Lois Park-Mole, a department spokeswoman.
But not all of them are receiving services.
That is because the department has huge waiting lists for most of its programs. One program that includes autistic children – the pervasive developmental disorder program – has 902 children in the program and another 1,241 on its waiting list.