Dodgers to Observe Autism Awareness Day

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Dodgers will observe Autism Awareness Day at today's game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium, including donating a portion of the proceeds of a special ticket offer to Autism Speaks.

Actress Holly Robinson Peete will sing the national anthem. After her oldest son RJ was diagnosed with autism, she expanded the scope of the foundation she co-founded with her husband, former USC and NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, to include support and resources for families affected by an autism diagnosis.

RJ is a clubhouse attendant for the Dodgers.

About one in 59 8-year-old children in 11 communities across the United States were identified as having autism in 2014, according to a report published last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimate released in 2016 found a prevalence of autism in one in 68 children.

Some of the change in prevalence could be due to improved autism identification among black and Latino children, according to the CDC.

``Autism prevalence among black and Hispanic children is approaching that of white children,'' said Dr. Stuart Shapira, associate director for science at the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

``The higher number of black and Hispanic children now being identified with autism could be due to more effective outreach in minority communities and increased efforts to have all children screened for autism so they can get the services they need.''

Estimated rates varied among the 11 communities studied from the high of 1 in 34 in New Jersey to the low of 1 in 77 in Arkansas.

``This suggests that the new national prevalence estimate of 1 in 59 still reflects a significant undercount of autism's true prevalence among our children,'' said Thomas Frazier, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. ``Without more and better research, we can't know how much higher it really is.''

Photo: Getty Images

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