Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. Autism is a spectrum disorder and it affects each individual differently and at varying degrees.
An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected. Autism affects one in 110 children, and one in every 70 boys, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes, and pediatric AIDS combined. Government statistics suggest the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually. People with autism process and respond to information in unique ways. In the past, it was believed that signs of autism didn’t show up until about 2 years of age; now we know they can show up at 6 months. The earlier they can receive help, the more chance they have for success.
The diagnosis, which can range from very mild to quite severe and can impact individuals in different ways, is determined not by a simple test but via a range of evaluations by counselors and psychologists. Autism can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. There is no known cure, but many with autism can show significant improvement with therapies and other interventions; especially with intense early intervention, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Current treatments include a range of behavior and communication therapies, dietary interventions, medication, and alternative medicine, according to the CDC. The Autism Society estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million, and that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for the disorder.
14 signs of autism
- May avoid eye contact
- May prefer to be alone
- Echos words or phrases
- Difficulty interacting with others
- Spins objects or self
- Insistence on sameness
- Inappropriate attachments to objects
- Inappropriate laughing or giggling
- May not want cuddling
- Difficulty in expressing needs; may use gestures
- Inappropriate response or no response to sound
- No real fear of dangers
- Apparent insensitivity to pain
- Sustained, unusual or repetitive play; uneven physical or verbal skills
Autism support group
The Center hosts an Autism Support Group which meets monthly. If you would like more information, please contact Randy Christian at 325-646-9574