Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Well Isn't This Interesting...?

I don't want to play a role in feeding paranoia, but I came across this article today and found it quite interesting. There is NOTHING conclusive to it, and at this stage it remains simply an observation. I will be curious to see what the outcome of any testing may show however.

Officials probing possible link between N.J. school, autism

Home News Tribune Online 06/20/07

NORTHVALE — Officials and environmental experts are investigating a high incidence of autism and learning disabilities among children born to teachers at a special-education school here.

An informal poll taken by officials at St. Anthony's revealed that 14 of 39 children born to faculty members since 1997 had a learning disability — three were diagnosed as autistic and 11 experienced speech and language delays. The poll relied partly on teachers' recollections.

St. Anthony's has served children with varying degrees of autism for 30 years, and currently has about 100 students. The property is owned by the Newark Archdiocese and leased by the Northern Valley Regional High School District, which administers the program.

Testing options for the building were scheduled to be discussed at a meeting Tuesday night. In the meantime, summer programs have been moved out of the building, Superintendent Jan Furman told The Record of Bergen County.

The archdiocese has conducted twice-yearly asbestos tests as required by law, spokesman Jim Goodness told the newspaper, and the school district conducted an air quality test that revealed no irregularities. Health officials said the school will also be examined for lead and volatile organic compounds.

"What I've been told is it's learning disabilities encompassing physical handicaps, neurological, autism and a broad spectrum," borough health officer Angela Musella said. "The bottom line is you can't draw any conclusion. We are still gathering information."

A federal study made public earlier this year found New Jersey had the highest rate of autism ever recorded in the United States: one in 94 children, and one in 60 boys. The overall rate in 14 states surveyed was one in 150 children. In New Jersey, a study released in 2000 could not find a cause for a high number of autism cases in Brick Township.

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