RHINELANDER - A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Thursday shows one out of 68 kids in the U.S. symptoms of autism. That is a 30 percent increase from just two years ago.
The same study found one in 88 kids showed symptoms in 2008. But now numbers from 2010 show a significant increase.
Pearl Thompson lives in Rhinelander and has two children (Carmen, 3 & Matthew,5) with autism. She believes these new numbers are beginning to reflect the true number of children with autism.
Thompson says the children cause plenty of challenges, but she believes that actually makes their family stronger.
"I think the challenges that we face just make us better parents and kind of help us prepare our children for challenges they may face in the future," Thompson said.
The disorder makes communication more difficult. But Thompson says that challenges make simple progress, like naming colors, even more meaningful.
"All of a sudden he (Matthew) just started naming colors of the cars and we just cried, I mean we bawled."
Nearly one out of 100 kids in Wisconsin show symptoms of autism, according to the CDC report. The report also indicates that boys have nearly five times the chance, (1 out of 66) of having the disorder compared to girls, (1 out of 330) in Wisconsin.
Thompson says the growing number of cases doesn't mean everyone knows or understands the disorder.
"We still get people who say can't you control how to control your kid and it's not that," Thompson said. "It's not that you know they're crying and throwing a fit because they can't have a toy."
Carlene Braatz has worked as an occupational therapist for the School District of Rhinelander for more than two decades. She's seen more autistic kids in her school over the years. But she worries about after they graduate from high school or college.
"What happens then? What happens if you have a nice skill set of educational skills, but you don't have the social skills?" Braatz said.
Braatz says she's seen many students make it out of the educational system and struggle to find work. She also says the state provides a healthy amount of workshops and other job opportunities for those with autism, but that could change as the numbers increase.
Regardless, Thompson stays positive for when her kids are fully grown up.
"I think with the proper support and everything in the state, I think they'll be OK," Thompson said.
If numbers continue to increase, more families will have to hope like Thompson.
If you would like to learn more about autism, Thompson and another Rhinelander mother are holding an "Autism 101" program at Crescent Elementary School in Rhinelander at 3319 Boyce Dr.
WAUSAU - This has been Wisconsin's deadliest gun-deer season in the past five years, with two shooting fatalities already recorded.
Daily Herald Media reports (http://wdhne.ws/1HvNth3 ) that the two fatalities brought to an end a three-year series of seasons that had been free of firearm deaths. Four other hunters also have been wounded.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, hunters violated some of the fundamental rules of gun safety in all the incidents.
A man was killed last Sunday in Columbia County when he was shot while passing a loaded rifle to a companion in a tree stand. Wearing mittens, she grabbed the gun near the trigger and it went off. On Monday, a hunter in Waushara County was killed by a stray bullet.
TOMAH - The Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center says it has adopted another plan to improve patient care.
The La Crosse Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1QMsDMZ) that Friday's release of the "100-day plan" comes almost 11 months after media reports that veterans at the center were prescribed excessive doses of opioid pain-killers and that employees who spoke out faced retaliation from top officials.
The plan, which follows a 30-day plan announced in May, outlines steps for improving access to care, employee engagement and restoring trust.
Among other things, it calls for recruitment of psychiatric staff, employee forums and listening sessions, and opening an employee wellness center.
Several Tomah VA officials — including former Director Mario Desanctis and former Chief of Staff David Houlihan — have been fired since the problems emerged early this year.
APPLETON - The U.S. Marshals Service says a convicted sex offender who was wanted for violating the terms of his release has been arrested in Appleton.
The agency says 63-year-old L.C. Streeter, of Milwaukee, was previously convicted of four separate sexual assaults from 1976 to 1985. Wisconsin committed him as a sexually violent person in 1996, and he remained in treatment until his release in 2013 under intensive supervision.
The service said in a statement that he cut off his GPS and electronic monitoring bracelets and fled supervision on Monday, resulting in a warrant for his arrest. Federal marshals and Appleton police arrested him without incident in Appleton on Friday.
Kevin Carr, the U.S. marshal for eastern Wisconsin, says Streeter was "an absolute danger to the community based upon his past convictions."
MAUSTON - Authorities are investigating the death of a person who was found unresponsive in Decorah Lake early Friday.
Kyle Lynch, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden for Juneau County, says he was called to the scene to assist in a boat search about 1:30 a.m. He also says the Mauston Fire Department recovered the body, which was found in the water.
The Mauston Police Department says attempts were made to rescue the individual, but the Juneau County Coroner's Office pronounced the individual dead at the scene. Police have provided few other details, and the victim's name has not been released.
RHINELANDER - People deposited more than just money at a Rhinelander bank Friday morning. A blood drive at People's State Bank allowed donors to double down on what they gave.
Nurses from the Community Blood Center took donations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the "Give a Pint, Give a Pound" blood drive. For every pint donated, the Blood Center will give a pound of food to the Lakeland Food Pantry.
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