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.
MERRILL - Trinity Lutheran School in Merrill doesn't have room for any more kindergarten students next year.
Its class is already full, partly because some families can send their kids to Trinity for free.
For the third straight year, Trinity will participate in Wisconsin's private school choice program.
This year, the state pays tuition for about 30 of Trinity's 120 total students.
"Parents like the Christian base, obviously. That's the main reason people send [their kids] here," said School Administrator Kathy Yahr. "They're keeping them here more now because of the opportunities that we offer."
MILWAUKEE - A Wausau-based company that makes architectural metal finishing took home a big honor Thursday night. Linetec won the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce's Manufacturer of the Year Award in the Large Company category.
The annual awards program celebrates Wisconsin companies that are well respected, serve their communities, and make Wisconsin "a better place to live, work, and play", according to a press release from the WMC.
NORTHWOODS - Lakes and nature bring people from all over the country to the Northwoods during the summer. Those same attractions get some people to stay here. Home sales and home prices in the Northwoods went up in 2017.
The Wisconsin Realtors Association reports about 1,300 more homes sold last year than in 2016 in Wisconsin. A local broker saw the increase firsthand.
"The markets that are going crazy right now are premium homes. The Minocqua chain is red hot, the Eagle River chain is pretty hot the Three Lakes chain is pretty hot and there are some chains of lakes that are less hot," said Coldwell Banker broker Jim Mulleady.
WAUSAU - Police arrested a Florence County man in connection to a Wausau homicide case this week. Online court records show Lee Franck, 56 doesn't face homicide charges, but instead domestic abuse counts.
According to the Wausau Pilot and Review paper, the criminal complaint shows Franck got into an argument with Lyle Leith a few days before the 77-year-old was found dead at his Wausau home on Kickbusch Street.
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