The Centers for Disease Control says the rate of autism has trippled in less than 20 years and while the cause remains a mystery, one thing is for certain, more and more families are affected by the disorder.

Thursday and Friday in Greenville an autism summit is highlighting the research and help available.

This summit is organized by Springbrook Autism Behavioral Health, one of the few residential centers for autism in the US which happens to be located in Travelers Rest.

And with the autism rate on the rise, it’s no surprise that this conference which began three years ago, has trippled in size.

More than 525 parents, educators and professional have gathered from 17 states and three countries to take a deeper look at Autism.

Many of them, like Vance and Kristy Goforth from Tennessee have their own story of stuggle.

“The most shocking detail that I can share with you that is one that many parents hear and it’s because of the lack of resources, the lack of treatment facilities, the lack of  options available, is when they hit these agressive behaviors and things get out of hand for the families, you’re told, you may have to give up custody of your child to the state before they’ll ever recieve help,” said Vance Goforth.  

At age 18, Joshua is finally getting treatment at Springbrook, but they know all too many families are still on agonizing waiting lists.

The Autism rate has jumped from 1 in 150 in 2000 to 1 in 59 today, according to the CDC.      

”If you just reversed that number and called it cancer so one in 59 cancer we would have cancer centers like we would have Starbucks. But we don’t have that for Autism,” said Mike Rowley, the CEO of Springbrook. 

If there’s one key point that organizers want parents to take away from this conference, it’s that early intervention is essential.

“Speech therapy, occupational therapy, and applied behavior analysis, which is what I do, ABA, those are the three. They know those work, and they can minimize the symptomology of autism or any developmental delay you might have,” said Dr. William Killion, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at Springbrook.
The GoForths have created a facebook page dedicated to the son they adopted, and to helping families overcome a stigma they know first hand, is far from the truth.

“He’s the biggest blessing in my life,” said Kristy Goforth. 

The summit continues Friday with a keynote speaker, Dr. Temple Grandin, who has autism and has worked to overcome her challenges.