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Disabling Conditions: Autism Spectrum Disorder

By: Devanee Lasley and Danielle Higgs

According to the Federal (IDEIA) Definition:
A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication
and social interaction, usually evident before age 3 that adversely affects a childs
educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with ASD are
engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to
environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory
experiences. The term does not apply if a childs educational performance is adversely
affected because the child has an emotional disturbance

1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls)
About 1% of the world population has Autism Spectrum disorder
More than 3.5 million Americans live with an Autism Spectrum disorder
Prevalence of Autism in U.S children increased by 119.4% from 2000 to 2010.
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability.
Autism is the third most common developmental disability in the United States

The exact causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are unknown, although it is
thought that several complex genetic and environmental factors are involved.

The causes of ASD can be described in two ways:

Primary ASD (also known as idiopathic ASD) where no underlying factors can be
identified to explain why ASD has developed.
Secondary ASD where an underlying medical condition or environmental factor
thought to increase the risk of ASD is identified.
About 90% of cases of ASD are primary, and about 10% are secondary.
Risk factors

Factors thought to increase the risk of developing ASD, known as risk factors, can
usually be divided into five main categories:
Genetic factors certain genetic mutations may make a child more likely to develop

Environmental factors during pregnancy, a child may be exposed to certain

environmental factors that could increase the risk of developing ASD.

Psychological factors people with ASD may think in certain ways that contribute

towards their symptoms.

Neurological factors specific problems with the development of the brain and nervous
system could contribute to the symptoms of ASD.

Other health conditions certain health conditions associated with higher rates of ASD.

General Information:
One with ASD can have impairments of social relationships. Examples would be
little or no eye contact, prefers to be alone and difficulty in mixing with others.
Impairments of social communication include lack or impairment of
conversational skills, and possibility of not developing speech or develop an
alternative method of communication such as pointing and gesturing.
One with ASD can have impairments of Imaginative thought as well. Examples
can include, only using the same objects, repetitive motor movements, and not
liking change in routine or environment.
A child with autism may
o Have trouble changing from one activity to the next
o Flap hands, rock, spin or stare
o Get upset by certain sounds
o Like only a few foods
o Have limited and unusual interests-for example, talk about only one topic
or keep staring at one toy.

Considerations for inclusion:

Consider physical needs of participants

Reinforcement is another crucial strategy in developing and maintaining
motivation in a participant with ASD
Be aware of communication, social interactions and restrictive play when
individuals with Autism are involved in physical activity or recreation programs.
Consider overall health status
Many with ASD lack social skills