In order to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, the Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month in April since the 1970s. The United States recognizes April as a special opportunity to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community.

A study by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences estimates that the number of children with autism in Arkansas has more than doubled since the last study in 2002.

The report from the Arkansas Autism Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Program says one in 65 children in the state has an autism spectrum disorder. The program last studied autism numbers in 2002 when it found one in 145 children with the disorder. A report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one in 68 children nationwide has autism.

Project coordinator Allison Hudson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that there is no identifiable reason for the increase in autism cases. She said it’s believed that more awareness of the disorder and better diagnostic tools are behind the higher numbers.