Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. CDC estimates that about 1% of the population has been identified with an ASD.
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a rapidly growing epidemic. Although it varies significantly in character and severity, it usually presents in young children. Its range of complex development brain disorders is characterized by social impairments and communication difficulties. Currently, there is no known cause or cure.
Facts about Autism
- Approximately 1% of the population is autistic.
- Every autistic child and adult are both teachable and cognizant.
- Autism is not a disease and is not contagious…it is simply a variation in the human operating system.
- Autistic people can have a variety of sensory filtering issues which can affect each of them in any number of ways including how that person interacts in any of their daily environments.
- Males are diagnosed four times as often as females. This is thought to be more of a result of the differing ways that the sexes display as opposed to an actual population numbers difference. Studies are pending.
- Depending on location, teachers and school staff can be undertrained, wrongly trained, or not trained at all in how to specifically communicate with and teach autistic students.
- Approximately 85% of autistic adults are unemployed or underemployed.
- Studies have found that more than 90% of those diagnosed with a disability will be physically and/or sexually abused in their lifetime. Those who cannot report the crime are at highest risk.
- Support systems for autistic adults are grossly underfunded and almost non-existent.
- Autistic children and adults may communicate with spoken voice, sign language, augmentive devices, written word or body language. All autistic people can communicate and do communicate even if it’s in a way that others may not understand. It’s imperative that all autistic people are given a reciprocating way to communicate with others in order to have and maintain self-worth, dignity and choice.
Signs and Symptoms
Behaviors of autism spectrum disorders may or may not be apparent in infancy (18-24 months), but usually become obvious during early childhood (24 months-6 years). Most autistic children are perfectly normal in appearance, but spend their time engaged in puzzling and disturbing behaviors which may be noticeably different from those of typical children.
- Lack of or delay in spoken language.
- Repetitive use of language/motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects, rocking).
- Self-abusive behavior (such as biting or head-banging).
- Indifferent or impaired to social interaction.
- Lack of empathy.
- Little or no eye contact.
- Lack of interest in peer relationships.
- Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play.
Living with a person with an ASD affects the entire family—parents, siblings, and in some families, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Meeting the complex needs of a person with an ASD can put families under a great deal of stress—emotional, financial, and sometimes even physical. Respite care can give parents and other family caregivers a needed break and help maintain family well-being.