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Autism conference provides hope and help for physicians and families
(2-15-02)

An estimated 1 of every 300 Texas children has autism. Many of these kids can't communicate with their families. They fail to develop language and social skills and become lost in a world of their own. While there is no known cause or cure for autism, it is treatable. Physicians, educators and parents of autistic children can learn helpful information at the third annual Medical Conference on Autism.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC) is sponsoring the event in conjunction with the Texas Center for Autism Research and Treatment and the Autism Society of America-San Antonio.

Raymond Palmer, Ph.D., a nationally renowned autism expert and assistant professor of family and community medicine at the Health Science Center, is one of seven featured speakers. Dr. Palmer will address the startling rise of autism in Texas over the last decade.

"The rate of autism in Texas has dramatically increased over the past 12 years — I call this an epidemic," Dr. Palmer said. "The growth has occurred in the larger, more densely populated and wealthier areas of the state. We don't know if this is because we have better diagnostic capabilities in larger cities, or if there is some interplay with a potentially more toxic environment."

Dr. Palmer said some pose a link between genetically predisposed individuals and environmental toxins. "Because we now have a greater biological understanding compared to even five years ago, we are beginning to develop effective treatments. These are not cures, but treatments," Dr. Palmer said.

The conference will address the latest treatments, findings and issues associated with autism. It is open to parents and physicians.

The conference begins at 8 a.m. Feb. 23 in the UTHSC auditorium. Registration is $55. Parents can register at the conference at 7 a.m. or pre-register online at www.sanantonioautism.org.

For more information, call (210) 828-6848.

Contact: Amanda Gallagher or Aileen Salinas