Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the United States. Even though there has been an almost 30% increase in diagnosis over the last 3 years, research shows that many parents have minimal knowledge about the signs of autism. Although there is no cure, early detection and intervention can increase improvements throughout a child’s life.
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which has been defined by the Centers for Disease Control as “ a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges ” is characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication and other behaviors that can range from gifted to severely challenged. Such behaviors include repetitive movements (hand flapping, body rocking), insistence on sameness, resistance to change and, in some cases, aggression or self-injury.
Most times there is nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from others, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from others. Some individuals with an autism spectrum disorder have significant cognitive impairments, although some have typical or even above average IQs. The Autism Science Foundation notes that 30-50% of people with autism also have seizures.
Dr. Leo Kanner first described autism in 1943 with his clinical account of the disorder based on direct observation. He detailed the essential features of autism, all of which are mirrored in the most recent diagnostic manuals.
April is World Autism Awareness Month
The goal of this month is to educate the public and build awareness around autism spectrum disorders, and the difficulties and challenges that children with autism face. The official imagery is a puzzle piece. The puzzle pieces represent the complexity of autism spectrum disorders, and also, because every puzzle piece is different in some way, they represent the diversity of every individual affected by autism. Lastly, the bright colors of the ribbon signify hope that through increased awareness, early intervention and appropriate treatments, all people with autism will be able to lead happier, fuller, more complete lives and improve their daily living skills. In addition to the puzzle piece, the official color for National Autism Awareness Month is a bright royal blue.
National Autism Organizations
• Autism Society of America
• Autism Speaks
• American Speech- Language and Hearing Association
• American Occupational Therapy Association
• National Autism Association
• First Signs
• Autism NOW
• Autism Research Institute
• Autism Science Foundation
• Organization for Autism Research
• Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)
• Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER)