Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje reports at The San Antonio Express-News:
The first-ever study on the prevalence of autism in San Antonio and the surrounding area shows more than 30,000 adults and children struggle with the disorder — and there aren’t enough specialized providers to care for them.
The 151-page report, undertaken by a Houston-based health care consulting firm, gathered data from San Antonio and seven surrounding counties to find that 1 in 79 people are currently on the autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, a condition that ranges from mild to serious and is typically marked by social awkwardness, difficulty in communicating, repetitive behaviors and other problems.
The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation commissioned the study after a series of roundtables begun about a year ago revealed a lack of information about the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder in San Antonio and the struggles faced by families that experience it.
The estimated economic impact of ASD in San Antonio, when such things as lost productivity and medical costs are taken into account, is around $2 billion annually, he said.
But one of the biggest problems revealed by the study is the dearth in San Antonio of highly-specialized providers who treat ASD, such as pediatric neurologists, developmental pediatricians and licensed school psychology specialists. Moreover, many health care providers who diagnose or treat ASD don’t make it a focused part of their practice, Goulden said.