Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art. Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. (Source: http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism)
- About 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder.
- Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births.
- More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder.
- Prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability.
- Prevalence has increased by 6-15 percent each year from 2002 to 2010. (Based on biennial numbers from the CDC)
- Autism services cost U.S. citizens $236-262 billion annually.
- A majority of costs in the U.S. are in adult services – $175-196 billion, compared to $61-66 billion for children.
- In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion. (Autism Society estimate)
- Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention. (Autism Society estimate based on Government Accounting Office Report on Autism, 2006)
- 1 percent of the adult population of the United Kingdom has autism spectrum disorder.
- The U.S. cost of autism over the lifespan is about $2.4 million for a person with an intellectual disability, or $1.4 million for a person without intellectual disability.
- 35 percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school.
- It costs more than $8,600 extra per year to educate a student with autism. (The average cost of educating a student is about $12,000)
- In June 2014, only 19.3 percent of people with disabilities in the U.S. were participating in the labor force – working or seeking work. Of those, 12.9 percent were unemployed; meaning only 16.8 percent of the population with disabilities was employed. (By contrast, 69.3 percent of people without disabilities were in the labor force, and 65 percent of the population without disabilities was employed.)
Above Key Points found at: http://www.autism-society.org
- Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys.
- Autism prevalence figures are growing.
- Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
- Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average.
- Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism.
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism.
Above Key points found at: http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/facts-about-autism
- What I have learned: Q: How common is Autism? A: Around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum, which is a ten-fold increase in prevalence over the last 40 years. Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.
- What I have learned: Q: What causes Autism? A: There is no one cause of autism just as there is no one type of autism. Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. Research has identified more than a hundred autism risk genes. In around 15 percent of cases, a specific genetic cause of a person’s autism can be identified. However, most cases involve a complex and variable combination of genetic risk and environmental factors that influence early brain development.
- What I have learned: Q: What does it mean to be “on the spectrum?” A: Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have intellectual disability (IQ less than 70), and many have normal to above average intelligence. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means.
- What I have learned: Q: How does a child develop Autism? A: Research suggests that the development of autism is rooted in very early brain development. However, in most cases, no one cause can be identified. Research has identified several genes that can cause autism in and of themselves. These account for about 15 percent of cases of autism spectrum disorders. Research has identified more than 100 genes or gene changes (mutations) that increase the risk that a child will develop autism. In most cases, genetics alone can’t distinguish why one person has autism and another does not.
- What I have learned: Q: Are vaccines to blame? A: Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.
- What I have learned: Q: How do you tell if a child has Autism? A: Though autism cannot be definitively diagnosed until around 18 to 24 months, research shows that children as young as 8 to 12 months may exhibit early signs. Parents should look for symptoms such as no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by 9 months; no babbling or back-and-forth gestures (e.g. pointing) by 12 months; or any loss of babbling, speech or social skills at any age.
- What I have learned: Q: What should you do if you suspect a child has Autism? A: Don’t wait. Talk to your doctor or contact your state’s Early Intervention Services department about getting your child screened for autism.
- What I have learned: Q: Can a child with Autism attend school? A: Absolutely. In fact, it’s a child’s right: According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990, your child deserves access to a “free and appropriate” education funded by the government, whether it be in a mainstream or special education classroom.
- Above Q’s and A’s can be found at: http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/faq
- Autism Spectrum Disorder Health Center (WebMD)
- Autism Speaks
- CDC on Autism
- Teens Health on Autism
- Autism Society
- Autism Source (online data system for the Autism Society)
- Autism Anti-Bullying Guide
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