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'Best' Places to Live With Autism All in Major Metro Areas: Survey
Date:4/13/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- After their 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with autism last December, Kristen Paurus and her husband, Bill, sought out doctors and therapists who could help.

In their hometown of Sebeka, Minn., population 710, that's not easy.

The closest speech therapist is 40 minutes away, a drive their daughter, Brea, makes with her dad twice a week. It's a three-hour trip to Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where Brea sees a neurologist, gastroenterologist, urologist and a behavioral pediatrician.

Kristen wants her daughter to see a behavior therapist, but the nearest one is two hours away. A representative from a statewide autism organization said it might be able to send a behavior therapist to her rural area, but two months later, she still doesn't have an appointment.

"It's so hard not being able to provide something for your daughter that could possibly help her so much," Kristen said.

The Pauruses are far from alone. About in 1 in 110 U.S. children -- and 1 in 70 boys -- has autism, and its prevalence is increasing.

Yet, nearly three-fourths of about 850 parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder surveyed by Autism Speaks said they're unable to access needed medical, educational or recreational services.

Based on the results of the online survey, Autism Speaks listed the best places for families with an autistic child to live. Parents in 10 major metropolitan areas -- New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, northern New Jersey, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle and Milwaukee -- tended to report better access to services.

"Many parents are telling us they have to drive too far, there are not enough services and it's too difficult to get the services even when they exist close by," said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks, a New York City-ba
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