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Subject Autism and the Amish
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Original Message The Age of Autism: One in 15,000 Amish

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- The autism rate for U.S. children is 1 in 166, according to the federal government. The autism rate for the Amish around Middlefield, Ohio, is 1 in 15,000, according to Dr. Heng Wang.

He means that literally: Of 15,000 Amish who live near Middlefield, Wang is aware of just one who has autism. If that figure is anywhere near correct, the autism rate in that community is astonishingly low.

Wang is the medical director, and a physician and researcher, at the DDC Clinic for Special Needs Children, created three years ago to treat the Amish in northeastern Ohio.

"I take care of all the children with special needs," he said, putting him in a unique position to observe autism. The one case Wang has identified is a 12-year-old boy.

Like stitchwork in an Amish quilt, Wang´s comments extend a pattern first identified by United Press International in the Pennsylvania Dutch country around Lancaster, Pa.

-- A Lancaster doctor who has treated thousands of Amish for nearly a quarter-century said he had never seen any autism. "We´re right in the heart of Amish country and seeing none -- and that´s just the way it is," that doctor said last month.

-- An Amish-Mennonite mother with an adopted autistic child said she was aware of only two other children with the disorder. "It is so much more rare among our people," she said.

-- UPI also found scant evidence of autism among the Amish in Indiana and Kentucky, two other states with sizable Amish settlements.

Ohio, with the nation´s largest Amish population, appears no different. Asked if he thinks the autism rate among the Amish is low, Wang said: "I would agree with that. In this country, the Amish have less autism. Why? That´s a very interesting topic. I think people need to look into it to do more research. This is something we could learn from."

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