Decades ago, few pediatricians had heard of autism. In 1975, 1 in 5,000 kids were estimated to have it. Today, 1 in 68 are on the autism spectrum. What caused this steep rise?

In his new book, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, journalist Steve Silberman answers this question by peeling back the layers of medical history that radically altered the scope of autism diagnosis in the last century, and revealing the perfect storm of social forces that led to the sudden increase in diagnoses beginning in the late 1980s.

This summer, Steve’s TED Talk on The Forgotten History of Autism went live online and in less than 24 hours, it garnered over 400,000 views.

Lucas Willard / WAMC


Note: The audio and text of this story has been updated 5/8/14

When Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo came into office in January of last year, he said he had never heard of “Project Lifesaver.”

Autism Awareness Begins At Home

Apr 2, 2015

Every summer my family takes a road trip to New York City for just a few hours. This trip is to bring my younger brother, Ben, down to a bus stop where he, and about one hundred other kids, pack in together and then drive to a camp in Utica. There, he’ll spend seven weeks working, camping, learning and living with other adolescents and kids, who have been diagnosed with different levels of autism.

Sites Go Blue For Autism Awareness

Apr 2, 2015
Courtesy of Greystone Programs

April is Autism Awareness Month and Thursday is World Autism Awareness Day. A bridge in the Hudson Valley will be among many sites lit up in blue.

Landmarks across the world – from the Sydney Opera House in Australia to the Empire State Building to the Great Buddha Statue in Japan -- are lighting blue to shine a light on autism. Michelle Hathaway is with Poughkeepsie-based Greystone Programs.

“And right here in the Hudson Valley, at Greystone Programs’ request, the Mid-Hudson Bridge will be lit up blue tonight.”

  Founded in 1954, Berkshire County Arc provides a broad range of community-based services to 650 individuals with developmental disabilities, brain injuries and autism throughout Berkshire and Hampden Counties in Massachusetts. The agency offers three day programs, 35 residential programs, employment services, citizen- and self-advocacy programs, respite services, an adult family care program and Zip 'N Sort Mail Services.

On Saturday, March 28, the Berkshire County Arc Down Syndrome Family Group will host the 2015 Berkshire County Sprout Film Festival at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Mass. The Festival begins at noon and will feature short films about individuals with various disabilities, their lives and personal achievements.

Here to tell us more are Jessica Dennis, Adult Family Care Case Manager at Berkshire County Arc and Amy Robandt, Director of Family Services at Berkshire County Arc.

Anderson Center Holds Reunion

Aug 16, 2014
Anderson Center for Autism

An autism center in Dutchess County celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, and there is a reunion Saturday afternoon. 


   Barrington Stage Company will be presenting the world premiere of Dancing Lessons, the new romantic comedy by playwright and BSC Associate Artist Mark St. Germain from August 7th – 24th.

Directed by Barrington Stage Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, Dancing Lessons stars John Cariani and Paige Davis. John Cariani made his BSC debut as ‘Dogberry’ in last summer’s Much Ado About Nothing. Cariani is also the playwright of the play Almost, Maine. Paige Davis is known for Broadway’s Chicago and TLC’s Trading Spaces.


  Woodstock Chimes offers a unique variety of high quality, affordable musical gifts from around the world that inspire, entertain and bring pleasure to people of all ages. Their most recent endeavor, Woodstock Chimes for Autism, was inspired by several uplifting stories shared by loyal Woodstock Chimes customers.

One aspect of autism is hypersensitivity to sound. Studies have found that music therapy can assist with some of the challenges attributed to autism. Mozart's music, in particular, has been a blessing for some individuals living with autism. The Woodstock Chimes for Autism features a specially designed clapper, so its soothing tones ring more gently. The chime is musically-tuned to a melody from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21. The Woodstock Chimes for Autism also features a bright, nickel-plated windcatcher with the symbolic, multi-colored puzzle pieces. This recognizable and distinctive logo was first created in 1963 by the National Autistic Society.

As our understanding of the minds of children with autism continues to grow, new methods are being used to both evaluate and nurture those children. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about research published last summer from scientists at Indiana University about new ways to interact with these young people.

We’ll also go to a science fair.  And not one of those Mentos and Diet Coke volcano science fairs.  This one has actual science.  Plus we’ll spend an academic minute finding out how mosquitoes smell.

    Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks.

But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism.