Facts about Autism

Approximately 1 in 150 children has autism. Autism is 4-5 times more prevalent in males than in females. 67 children are diagnosed per day. A new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined. Autism occurs in all countries and within all socioeconomic classes. Autism can often be detected as early as 18 months. Among identical twins, if one child has autism, then the other will be affected about 75% of the time. In non-identical twins, if one child has autism, then the other has it about 3% of the time. Parents who have a child with an ASD have a 2%-8% chance of having a second child who is also affected. Many children with autism are making enormous strides & a significant number are now indistinguishable from their peers.


What is Autism? What Causes Autism?

Autism is known as a complex developmental disability. Experts believe that Autism presents itself during the first three years of a person's life. The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person's communication and social interaction skills. People with autism have issues with non-verbal communication, a wide range of social interactions, and activities that include an element of play and/or banter.

What is ASD?

or out of synch with everyone else. If the symptoms are more severe. To put it more simply. and has time to prepare for it. the resistance to the change is either gone completely or is much lower. the person with ASD may seem socially clumsy. as health care professionals. A person with an ASD typically has difficulty with social and communication skills. if the symptoms are not severe. the person may seem not to be interested in other people at all. However. teachers and others are improving their ability to detect signs of autism at an earlier age than before. A person with ASD will typically also prefer to stick to a set of behaviors and will resist any major (and many minor) changes to daily activities. they lack the necessary playing and talking skills. In this text Autism and ASD mean the same. Empathy . some people will have mild symptoms while others will have severe ones. As well as experiencing varying combinations of symptoms. This means that no two people with autism will have exactly the same symptoms. In many cases.Understanding and being aware of the feelings of others . the person can be taught that eye contact is important for most people and he/she will remember to look people in the eye. A person with autism may often miss the cues we give each other when we want to catch somebody's attention. It is common for relatives. ASDs are any developmental disabilities that have been caused by a brain abnormality. If the symptoms are not severe. but does not have the same skills as others to become fully involved.ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder and can sometimes be referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorder. friends and people who interact with someone with an ASD to comment that the ASD sufferer makes very little eye contact. Social skills The way in which a person with an ASD interacts with another individual is quite different compared to how the rest of the population behaves. Below is a list of the most commonly found characteristics identified among people with an ASD. The person with ASD might not know that somebody is trying to talk to them. eye contact among people with autism is improving. Several relatives and friends of people with ASDs have commented that if the person knows a change is coming in advance. They may also be very interested in talking to a particular person or group of people. Autism is a wide-spectrum disorder Autism (or ASD) is a wide-spectrum disorder. sometimes offensive in his/her comments.

Often it is a question of practice and anticipating that physical contact is going to happen.empathy does improve. and feelings than there might be in a conversation with a person who does not have autism.and enjoy it greatly. thoughts.usually the mother. However. For example. He may love a theme. there will be much less exchanging of ideas. and some of it becomes natural rather than intellectual. some smells. Physical contact A number of children with an ASD do not like cuddling or being touched like other children do. grandfather. if they are frequently reminded of this. Having a conversation with a person with autism may feel very much like a one-way trip. without that child anticipating the contact. the result might be completely different. and lights . Even so. and talk about it a lot. Loud noises. and or sibling(s) . father. However.as a result of frequent practice . The person with ASD might give the impression that he is talking at people. It is wrong to say that all children with autism are like that. it is human nature. The person with autism will usually do so even more. Many will hug a relative . Almost everybody on this planet prefers to talk about himself/herself more than other people. if a child suddenly tickles another child's feet.A person with autism will find it much harder to understand the feelings of other people. the ability to take other people's feelings into account improves tremendously. In some cases . he will most likely giggle and become excited and happy. teacher. rather than with or to them. His/her ability to instinctively empathize with others is much weaker than other people's. If that child were to tickle the feet of a child with autism. grandmother. empathy never comes as naturally for a person with autism as it does to others.

compared to other people's speech. The same can happen with some smells and sudden changes in the intensity of lighting and ambient temperature. For a child with autism this change.an event called echolalia. bath first and then teeth. The speech of a person with ASD may sound much more formal and woody. Their intonation may sound flat.A person with autism usually finds sudden loud noises unpleasant and quite shocking. and not being able to prepare for it . the social skills of a person with autism will not develop at the same pace as other people's. five. His/her cognitive skills may develop fast. his/her language skills may develop rapidly while their motor skills don't. but could have a much larger vocabulary. Even knowing that something 'might' happen. smell or light. Another could be drawing the same picture again and again. Teenagers with Asperger's Syndrome can sometimes sound like young professors. and they may become very upset. Many believe it is not so much the actual noise. Repetitive behaviors A person with autism likes predictability. however. page after page. People with autism will often repeat words or phrases they hear . . or ten minutes . Routine is his/her best friend. Nonetheless. Going through the motions again and again is very much part of his/her life. and then put on his pajamas before going to bed . A child with autism develops differently While a child without autism will develop in many areas at a relatively harmonious rate. then brush his teeth. People without autism are much more adaptable to changes in procedure. the more affected are a person's speaking skills.similar to the response to surprising physical contact. Some people believe that helping a child with autism learn how to cope better with change is a good thing. Speech The higher the severity of the autism. The repetitive behavior could be a simple hop-skip-jump from one end of the room to the other. To others. these repetitive behaviors may seem like bizarre rites. this may not be the case for a child with autism.or even longer.even though he usually brushes his teeth first. Many children with an ASD do not speak at all. could completely put him/her out. On the other hand. repeated again and again for one. he can cope with it much better. forcing them to accept change like others do could adversely affect their quality of life. while their social and language skills trail behind. They may not be able to catch a ball as well as the other children. and being reminded of it. helps a lot. A child without autism may be quite happy to first have a bath. but rather the surprise. If the person with autism knows something is going to happen.

Chromosomal abnormalities and other nervous system (neurological) problems are also more common in families with autism. Myths about autism A person with autism feels love. incidence. The exact causes of these abnormalities remain unknown. happiness. going through the tics is enjoyable. Physical tics and stimming It is not uncommon for people with autism to have tics.medicalnewstoday. They involve: . When parents first see these tics. such as how to read long words. but not proven. sadness and pain just like everyone else. not some conspiracy. People with ASD who do have tics often say that they have to be expressed.com/info/autism/ Autism Pervasive developmental disorder .Learning may be unpredictable How quickly a child with autism learns things can be unpredictable. Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life. they may experience shock and worry. For example.THEY DO!! It is crucial that the Myth . Causes.autism Last reviewed: April 26.. Just because some of them may not express their feelings in the same way others do. otherwise the urge does not stop. and risk factors Autism is a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. Similarly. http://www.. with autism. 2010. and they have a preferred spot where they do them . and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. but this is a very active area of research. others are not. only to forget them completely later on. identical twins are much more likely than fraternal twins or siblings to both have autism. it is important that you educate people who carry this myth in a helpful and informative way. They may learn something much faster than other children.usually somewhere private and spacious. especially the convoluted ones.Autistic people have no feelings . The myth is a result of ignorance. A number of people with autism are able to control when they happen. Not all people with autism have an incredible gift or savantism for numbers or music. They may learn how to do something the hard way before they learn how to do it the easy way. There are probably a combination of factors that lead to autism. Genetic factors seem to be important. Therefore. For many. language abnormalities are more common in relatives of autistic children. does not mean at all that they do not have feelings .is destroyed. A number of other possible causes have been suspected. Obsessions People with autism often have obsessions. Some tics can be quite complicated and can go on for a very long time. People with autism are ordinary people. These are usually physical movements that can be jerky.

studies have NOT shown this risk to be true. . but with normal language development) Rett syndrome (very different from autism. Some people believe that the small amount of mercury (called thimerosal) that is a common preservative in multidose vaccines causes autism or ADHD. They may ask their doctor or nurse to wait. then loses them by age 10) Pervasive developmental disorder . Other pervasive developmental disorders include:     Asperger syndrome (like autism. A report released by the U. education. Autism affects boys 3 . or even refuse to have the vaccine.not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).     Diet Digestive tract changes Mercury poisoning The body's inability to properly use vitamins and minerals Vaccine sensitivity AUTISM AND VACCINES Many parents are worried that some vaccines are not safe and may harm their baby or young child. and lifestyle do not seem to affect the risk of autism. For example. and The Institute of Medicine (IOM) agree that no vaccine or component of any vaccine is responsible for the number of children who are currently being diagnosed with autism. Children with autism typically have difficulties in:    Pretend play Social interactions Verbal and nonverbal communication Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly "regress" and lose language or social skills they had previously gained. However. However. it is important to also think about the risks of not having the vaccination. and only occurs in females) Childhood disintegrative disorder (rare condition where a child learns skills. a child who is diagnosed with high-functioning autism today may have been thought to simply be odd or strange 30 years ago. They conclude that the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks. also called atypical autism Symptoms Most parents of autistic children suspect that something is wrong by the time the child is 18 months old and seek help by the time the child is age 2. The term "autism" now includes a wider spectrum of children. All of the routine childhood vaccines are available in single-dose forms that do not contain added mercury. This is called the regressive type of autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics. Some doctors believe the increased incidence in autism is due to newer definitions of autism.S. Family income.4 times more often than girls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that autism and related disorders are more common than previously thought. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website provides further information. HOW MANY CHILDREN HAVE AUTISM? The exact number of children with autism is not known. It is unclear whether this is due to an increasing rate of the illness or an increased ability to diagnose the illness.

says "you want water" when the child means "I want water") Does not point to direct others' attention to objects (occurs in the first 14 months of life) Repeats words or memorized passages. Communication problems may include:         Cannot start or maintain a social conversation Communicates with gestures instead of words Develops language slowly or not at all Does not adjust gaze to look at objects that others are looking at Does not refer to self correctly (for example. or taste (for example.People with autism may:     Be overly sensitive in sight. smell. rather than with others Shows a lack of empathy Response to sensory information:       Play: Does not startle at loud noises Has heightened or low senses of sight. smell. such as commercials Uses nonsense rhyming Social interaction:        Does not make friends Does not play interactive games Is withdrawn May not respond to eye contact or smiles. mouths or licks objects Seems to have a heightened or low response to pain . hearing. or taste May find normal noises painful and hold hands over ears May withdraw from physical contact because it is overstimulating or overwhelming Rubs surfaces. or may avoid eye contact May treat others as if they are objects Prefers to spend time alone. they may refuse to wear "itchy" clothes and become distressed if they are forced to wear the clothes) Have unusual distress when routines are changed Perform repeated body movements Show unusual attachments to objects The symptoms may vary from moderate to severe. touch. touch. hearing.

the diagnosis will often be based on very specific criteria from a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV. A health care provider experienced in diagnosing and treating autism is usually needed to make the actual diagnosis. It may also include a specific screening tool. An evaluation of autism will often include a complete physical and nervous system (neurologic) examination. and screening test for autism (such as the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers [CHAT] or the Autism Screening Questionnaire). This is particularly true if a child fails to meet any of the following language milestones:      Babbling by 12 months Gesturing (pointing.   Doesn't imitate the actions of others Prefers solitary or ritualistic play Shows little pretend or imaginative play Behaviors:         "Acts up" with intense tantrums Gets stuck on a single topic or task (perseveration) Has a short attention span Has very narrow interests Is overactive or very passive Shows aggression to others or self Shows a strong need for sameness Uses repetitive body movements Signs and tests All children should have routine developmental exams done by their pediatrician. .Stage 3 Children with known or suspected autism will often have genetic testing (looking for chromosome abnormalities) and may have metabolic testing. Because there is no biological test for autism. waving bye-bye) by 12 months Saying single words by 16 months Saying two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months (not just echoing) Losing any language or social skills at any age These children might receive a hearing evaluation. Further testing may be needed if the doctor or parents are concerned. blood lead test. such as:      Autism Diagnostic Interview .Revised (ADI-R) Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) Childhood Autism rating Scale (CARS) Gilliam Autism Rating Scale Pervasive Developmental Disorders Screening Test .

Treatment is most successful when it is geared toward the child's particular needs. It uses picture schedules and other visual cues that help the child work independently and organize and structure their environments. The goal is to get the child close to normal developmental functioning. Most programs will build on the interests of the child in a highly structured schedule of constructive activities. but there is little research supporting their effectiveness. Unlike ABA programs. Though TEACCH tries to improve a child's adaptation and skills. Treatment An early. ABA programs are usually done in a child's home under the supervision of a behavioral psychologist. TEACCH Another program is called the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH). including:      Applied behavior analysis (ABA) Medications Occupational therapy Physical therapy Speech-language therapy Sensory integration and vision therapy are also common. a team of different specialists will evaluate the child. including: . it also accepts the problems associated with autism spectrum disorders. ABA uses a one-on-one teaching approach that reinforces the practice of various skills. TEACCH was developed as a statewide program in North Carolina. without a diagnosis the child may not get the necessary treatment and services. A variety of therapies are available. intensive. appropriate treatment program will greatly improve the outlook for most young children with autism. However. which can be hard to find in many communities. brief evaluation cannot predict a child's true abilities. TEACCH programs do not expect children to achieve typical development with treatment.Autism includes a broad spectrum of symptoms. An experienced specialist or team should design the program for the individual child. APPLIED BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS (ABA) This program is for younger children with an autism spectrum disorder. MEDICINE Medicines are often used to treat behavior or emotional problems that people with autism may have. Visual aids are often helpful. Therefore. a single. It can be effective in some cases. They might evaluate:       Communication Language Motor skills Speech Success at school Thinking abilities Sometimes people are reluctant to have a child diagnosed because of concerns about labeling the child. The best treatment plan may use a combination of techniques. These programs can be very expensive and have not been widely adopted by school systems. Parents often must seek funding and staffing from other sources. Ideally.

There is no medicine that treats the underlying problem of autism. Casein is found in milk. after many studies have been conducted in many laboratories. only risperidone is approved to treat children ages 5 . and other dairy products. DIET Some children with autism appear to respond to a gluten-free or casein-free diet. talk to both a doctor who specializes in the digestive system (gastroenterologist) and a registered dietitian. Other medicines that may also be used include SSRIs. At one time. Not all experts agree that dietary changes will make a difference. You want to be sure that the child is still receiving enough calories. such as:  Fragile X syndrome . Follow the progress of research in this area. nutrients. and reports of "miracle cures" that do not live up to expectations. At that time. Gluten is found in foods containing wheat. rye. If you are considering these or other dietary changes. but the outlook today is much better than it was a generation ago. However. OTHER APPROACHES Beware that there are widely publicized treatments for autism that do not have scientific support. and not all studies of this method have shown positive results. Now. though most people will have some symptoms throughout their lives. it's possible that secretin is not effective after all. Expectations (prognosis) Autism remains a challenging condition for children and their families. divalproex sodium and other mood stabilizers.           Aggression Anxiety Attention problems Extreme compulsions that the child cannot stop Hyperactivity Impulsiveness Irritability Mood swings Outbursts Sleep difficulty Tantrums Currently. and a balanced diet. it may be helpful to talk with other parents of children with autism and autism specialists. which is rapidly developing.16 for the irritability and aggression that can occur with autism. research continues. with the right therapy. see autism resources. The outlook depends on the severity of the autism and the level of therapy the person receives. there was enormous excitement about using secretin infusions. Complications Autism can be associated with other disorders that affect the brain. Today. If your child has autism. and barley. most people with autism were placed in institutions. cheese. Support Groups For organizations that can provide additional information and help on autism. many of the symptoms of autism can be improved. Most people with autism are able to live with their families or in the community. and possibly stimulants such asmethylphenidate.

Call your health care provider with any concerns about autism or if you think that your child is not developing normally.nlm.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002494/ .nih. The stresses of dealing with autism can lead to social and emotional complications for family and caregivers. Calling your health care provider Parents usually suspect that there is a developmental problem long before a diagnosis is made.  Mental retardation Tuberous sclerosis Some people with autism will develop seizures.ncbi. http://www. as well as the person with autism.

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