Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism spectrum disorders have been estimated to occur in as many as 1 in every 68 births. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014).
Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle, and educational levels do not affect one’s chance of having autism. Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. The disorder makes it hard for them to communicate with others and relate to the outside world. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present. Persons with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects and resistance to changes in routines. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
Over one half million people in the U.S. today have autism or some form of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD-NOS). Its prevalence rate makes autism one of the most common developmental disabilities. Yet most of the public, including many professionals in the medical, educational, and vocational fields, are still unaware of how autism affects people and how they can effectively work with individuals with autism. The words “autism spectrum” refer to the fact that autism can cause profound difficulties in living an independent life, or may only cause some social difficulties. The actual symptoms of autism that each individual expresses may be completely different and diagnoses from “autism” to “Asperger’s syndrome”, and everything in between, are all part of the “autism spectrum”.
Informational Link: The Centers for Disease Control – Autism Information.