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CDC: 1 out of 68 showing symptoms of autism, nearly 30% increase in 2 yrsSubmitted: 03/27/2014

Adam Fox
10 p.m. Anchor/Reporter
afox@wjfw.com

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.

The event starts at 6 p.m. on April 14th.

For more information call 915-799-1736










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 IN OTHER NEWS

ADAMS COUNTY - Two men died in a car crash near the Wisconsin Dells Saturday afternoon according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.

Police got a call around 2 p.m. about a two-car crash on County Road B north of State Highway 23 in Adams County.

A 65-year-old was driving and a 72-year-old was in the front passenger seat. Both those men died at the scene. They were both from Oxford, Wisconsin.

Driving the other car was a 24-year-old man from the Wisconsin Dells. He was taken to a hospital but is expected to survive.

Wisconsin State Patrol is still investigating. The names will not be released until the families are notified. 

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MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.

Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.

Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.

"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."

On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.

Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.

The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.

"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."

Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer. 


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NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.

They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.

But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.

And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.

That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.

It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.

"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate. 

Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday. 

You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.

All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.

That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.

"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."

If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.


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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 04/29/2016

- Local schools have stepped up to show their support for the Antigo community after last weekend's prom shooting. We'll show you what that effort looks like at Lakeland.

- Plus, a local greenhouse that was destroyed by a tornado in 2011 and was rebuilt is celebrating it's20th anniversary. We'll take you to the celebration.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - We now know who were the three people killed during Wednesday's double-murder suicide in Wisconsin Rapids.

The Wisconsin Rapids Police Department says  36-year-old Justin Bohn of Wisconsin Rapids shot and killed his 5-year-old daughter, Paige, and his 3-year-old son, Devon.



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TOMAHAWK - A renovation can do a lot for a business, like boost sales. But for one Tomahawk business, its new look won the store an award.

Many people were excited when the Essence Boutique in Tomahawk won a Wisconsin Main Street award for Best Interior Design. But none more so than the owner, Jenna Meier.

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RHINELANDER - Making sure nearly 400 families get enough to eat each month takes a lot of resources.

That's why the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry hopes a new spring fundraiser will help.

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