CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - It's something that a growing number of children and adults live with daily - autism.
According to the CDC, about 1 in 54 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. About 1 in 34 boys are diagnosed with autism; for girls, it's 1 in 144.
For those that utilize services at One Vision's Children's Autism Center, clinic director Laura Korth says 2020 shook things up. For several months, their doors were closed, and service transitioned to tele-health.
"We were able to still see our families, work with our kids. The sessions were typically shorter than what we have here. As you can imagine, having a 3-year old in front of a screen for more than 30 minutes is pushing it."
In June, the center reopened at limited capacity, with one child per session time and one therapist per day, with a rotating schedule to limit contact. When the new school year rolled around, the center went back to a more full-time schedule.
With the sudden changes in routines, and missing out on key face to face social interactions, Korth says the changes may pose a challenge for those with autism.
"Unfortunately, during that time we were closed, a lot of our kids didn't see anybody. They were only seeing their family members, and it's difficult to work on those social skills when you aren't around other people."
Now with routines being adjusted yet again, Korth advises parents to set some sort of consistent schedule, as many on the autism spectrum feel safer and at ease when routines are consistent.
"Some of our families use picture schedules throughout the day to outline what's going to be happening throughout the day. That way the child isn't set off if something isn't the same as it usually is."
This week, the center's social skills groups will start up again, starting with those ages 5 to 9. Conversation skills and eye contact will be discussed.