Autism may be more prevalent than previously thought

A new analysis suggests autism is even more common in children than previously reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Numbers published in the Journal of Pediatrics Monday show 1 in 40 children have the developmental disability.

That’s significantly higher than CDC's report of 1 in 59 children.

The new numbers come from parents who reported their child’s diagnosis during a 2016 National Survey of Children's Health survey.

According to Autism Speaks, the difference is a result of varying research methods and record-keeping methods from state to state.

For groups working with children who have autism, the numbers reinforce what they already know: More support is needed.

As principal of the Florida Autism Center of Excellence, a public charter school for children with autism, Annie Russell sees the need first hand.

"I think that the issue now is moving beyond awareness and providing support, researching, programming, available resources for families," said Russell, adding that children will need long-term help. "I would like to see more of that approach of what we can do to help families and what we can do to sustain autism programs not only through public school education but through the duration of that child's life."

Even though there is a difference between the new report and the CDC's report, autism experts said diagnoses of the disorder have been rising for years.