April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day
Did you know…?*
Autism affects as many as 1 in 150 children and 1 in 94 boys
Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the world
More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than diabetes, pediatric cancer, & AIDS combined
Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
There is no medical detection or cure for autism, but early diagnosis and intervention improve outcomes
Autism does not discriminate by geography, class, or ethnicity
*These facts were taken from the website www.worldautismawarenessday.org. To learn more about World Autism Awareness Day (April 2nd) and the virtual walk for autism awareness, visit the site as well.
What is Autism?*
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life and lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) which are defined by a certain set of behaviors. As a "spectrum disorder", it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees, from very mild to quite severe. Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness, early detection, various treatment approaches, and funding can help families today.
*(Description of autism taken mostly from www.autismspeaks.org)
Know the signs: Early Identification can change lives
Here are some signs to look for in the children in your life:*
Lack of or delay in spoken language
Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
Little or no eye contact
Lack of interest in peer relationships
Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
Persistent fixation on parts of objects
This checklist of developmental signs was found at the Autism Society of America's website, www.autism-society.org.
Helpful websites on Autism: Awareness, Support, Causes and Treatments
www.autism-society.org (official website of Autism Society of America)
www.autismspeaks.org (official website of the nation's leading nonprofit organization devoted to autism)
www.autismcoach.com (offers products and information to help children within the autism spectrum reach their potential)
www.defeatautismnow.com (dedicated to the exploration, evaluation, and dissemination of scientifically documented biomedical interventions for individuals within the autism spectrum)
www.dmas.virginia.gov (official site of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services. Go here for long term care assistance and waivers)
www.generationrescue.org (An international movement of parent-volunteers helping more than 10,000 children begin biomedical treatment. Autism is reversible.)
www.tacanow.org (Families with autism helping families with autism. Jenny McCartney is the national spokesperson for TACA)
According to the Autism Society of America, a February 2007 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the prevalence of autism has risen to 1 in 150 children. The disorder affects almost 1 in 94 boys. According to the ASA, there are 1.5 million Americans living with autism today.
Thirty years ago, the incidence of autism was between 1 and 4 in 10,000 children, according to Adelle Jameson Tilton, author of The Everything Parent's guide to Children with Autism. The disorder was considered rare, and few people had heard of it.
The ASA estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism may range from $3.5 million to $5 million, including treatments, therapies, education, housing, transportation, Medicaid wavers, and more.
The National Autistic Society (UK) describes autism as a "lifelong developmental disability" that causes difficulty with "social interaction, communication, and imagination."
According to Understanding Autism for Dummies, by Stephen Shore, it is possible to diagnose children as young as 18 months with autism. Most children with autism are diagnosed by age 3. Early diagnosis and intervention are important optimal treatment.
Also according to Shore, there is no single known cause for autism. Genetics and environmental factors are both thought to contribute to autism. The disorder was once considered untreatable, but today there is a wide variety of treatment options available.
In 1983, the autism rate was 1 in 10,000 children. In 2008, the autism rate is 1 in 150. (source: www.generationrescue.org)