DES MOINES, Iowa — One in 36 8-year-olds are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to recent CDC data.
That's up from two years ago, when data said one in 44 were diagnosed with autism.
Tyler Leech was diagnosed with autism very early on in his life.
"I was diagnosed at 22 months, although I didn't know that much about it until sixth grade," Leech said.
While he said the diagnosis has presented some challenges, it's also helped him with his career.
"Where it helped me is with attention to detail and having some things repeated over and over," Leech said.
Leech is just one of many people living with a neurodevelopmental disorder, and he feels more accepted every day, which is something he's actively working on in the community.
"I was encouraged to share my story at the Autism Day on the Hill, especially to my local legislator," he said. "And he worked with our governor to help pass a bill granting a designation for autism on driver's licenses."
Brad Zelinger with Stride Autism Centers said there are several reasons the number of kids diagnosed with autism is going up.
"I think people are talking about it more and are more open about it," Zelinger said. "I think that, to me, is one area that contributes and I think the other is that there's a lot of there is a lot of awareness among pediatricians and there's a lot more screening that occurs."
Dr. Nate Noble with the Blank Children's Developmental Center said as a specialist in this field, he wants people to know it's not just about the diagnosis.
"There's value in a diagnostic description, an umbrella term, there's value in that because it gives people a path," he said. "I don't mean to diminish that, but the emphasis needs to be not on what you have, [but] on what we're going to do about what you have."