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Michigan Hosts First International Conference on Autism

February 20, 2009

Novi, MI - Autism is considered by some to be epidemic, though there's no consensus on why the number of cases is increasing. Nearly one-in-150 children is diagnosed with autism each year. The first International Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders gets underway today in Novi.

Jamie McGillivary, psychologist at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital, is among the 200 people registered to attend. She says science still cannot explain why autism affects so many children.

"Some people think that it's an increase in the rate at which it's being diagnosed; others are looking toward environmental variables."

Parents need to be their own scientists and research every intervention available to find the best fit for the child and the family, according to McGillivary. Many of those treatments will be discussed at the conference, she says, including alternative approaches.

"Whether it's the diet or hyperbaric oxygen chambers, parents need to look toward increasing their child's attention or ability to learn."

The conference runs through Sunday.

Tony Bruscato, Public News Service - MI