Knowledge is the best remedy.
How Common is Autism?
The U.S. Center for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum. This number is a ten-fold increase in the last 40 years. Research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. Studies that boys is four to five times more likely to be affected by autism. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States. ASD affects over tens of million worldwide and over 2 million individuals in the United States.
What Does it Means to Be "On the Spectrum?"
The term "on the spectrum" is commonly used when referring to Autism. ASD is a disorder where it affects each individual differently, from mild to severe. Many of the children on the spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. It is said that about 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Others with autism have significant disability and unable to live independently. Studies show that about 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means such as sign language. For some individuals, we strive to address the significant challenges in communication and physical health with effective treatments. For other individuals, we should increase acceptance, respect and support.
What are the Signs and Red Flags?
One of the most important thing a parent or caregiver can do is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical development milestones that a child should be reaching. There are common warning signs that indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. No one behavior means a child has ASD; however, a combination of developmental concerns should be address without delay.
Common warning sings may include:
* Slow or no verbal language development
* Difficulty initiating or maintaining an interaction (starting or taking turns rolling a ball)
* Echo-like speech such as repeating words just heard or words from songs or TV shows
* Limited pretend play
* Tendency to play alone
* Disinterest in drawing adult attention for social interaction, i.e. does not "show-off"
* Repetitive motor actions like lining up blocks or cars, sorting and resorting
* Inconsistent responses to sounds, seems deaf and overly sensitive
* Difficulty with imitation
*Limited use of alternative forms of communication or interaction such as few facial expressions and gestures, * Limited eye contact.
* Extreme or intense sensitivity, i.e. giggling, crying, or throwing a tantrum without apparent reason
* Resistance to change in routines or interruption of activities
What do I do next when my child exhibits warning signs?
Presently, there is no medical test that can diagnose autism. Instead, specially trained physicians and psychologists administer autism-specific behavioral evaluations. If a child exhibits warning signs then he or she should be further evaluated by a specialist such as a developmental pediatrician, neurologist, psychiatrist or psychologist.
If your child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) then you would more likely to ask what can I do next. Although there is no simple answer to that question, it might be helpful for you to know that there are many promising advances in the treatment of children with ASDs, and there are many promising resources to help you. Local and national resources of information are available . Please check out our
to help you with local providers and for links to other organizations for autism.
KNOWAutism Foundation, 6430 Richmond, Suite 410, Houston, TX 77057