Learn About Autism

What is autism?
Autism is the fastest-growing serious neurodevelopmental disorder in the United States. Autism currently affects approximately one in 110 children and one in 70 boys. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the United States and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism. None of these two people with autism are the same.

People with this disorder handle information in their brain differently than other people. Autism affects each person in a different way. Typically, those with autism share similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction; there are differences when the symptoms start, how severe they are and the exact nature of the symptoms.

Autism is a lifelong disability characterized by severe defects in communication, socialization and repetitive and restricted behaviors interfering with education and functioning in society. Each individual will display communication, social, and behavioral patterns that are unique but fit into the overall diagnosis of autism. Those with autism will often have unusual responses to sensory experiences, such as certain sounds or the way objects look.

Symptoms also include problems with verbal and nonverbal communication as well as difficulties with repetitive behaviors or narrow, obsessive interests. These behaviors can range in impact from mild to severe and present in each individual with autism differently. Autism varies widely in its severity and symptoms that manifest in the individual. Scientists have not yet determined what causes this disorder.  (from: www.cdc.gov and www.nih.gov)

Is there a cure for autism?
To date, there is no cure for autism. Scientists do not know why autism occurs in those who are affected by the disorder; there are no treatments that are proven to cure autism. However, sometimes, children with autism make so much progress that they no longer show the full syndrome of autism when they are older.

Research shows that early diagnosis and interventions delivered early in life, such as in the preschool period, are more likely to result in major positive effects on later skills and symptoms. The sooner a child begins to get help, the more opportunity for learning. Because a young child’s brain is still forming, early intervention gives children the best start possible and the best chance of developing their full potential. Even so, no matter when a person is diagnosed with autism, it’s never too late to benefit from treatment. People of all ages with autism at all levels of ability generally respond positively to well designed interventions.

Public Law 108-77: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004) and Public Law 105-17: Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA (1997) require your child’s primary care provider to refer you and your family to an early intervention service. Every state operates an early intervention program for children from birth to age three; children with autism should qualify for these services. Early intervention programs typically include behavioral methods, early developmental education, communication skills, occupational and physical therapy, and structured social play. (from: NIH.gov)

What causes autism?

Scientists do not know exactly what causes autism at this time.

Much evidence supports the idea that genetic factors—that is, genes, their function, and their interactions—are one of the main underlying causes of autism. But, researchers aren’t looking for just one gene. Current evidence suggests that as many as 10 or more genes on different chromosomes may be involved in autism, to different degrees. (from: NIH.gov)





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