National Autism Awareness Month is celebrated every April and is sponsored by the Autism Society whose goal is to “Celebrate differences for those who see things differently”.
According to the Autism Society, about 1 percent of the world population has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups but is about 4 times more common among boys than among girls. Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 59 births and has increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 to 2010.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ASD is a developmental disability that can cause people to communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged.
Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less. Some signs and symptoms of ASD may include:
- Having trouble relating to others or not having an interest in other people at all
- Avoiding eye contact and wanting to be alone
- Having trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- Being very interested in people, but not knowing how to talk, play, or relate to them
- Repeating words or phrases said to them in place of normal language
- Not playing “pretend” games
- Repeating actions
- Having trouble adapting to a routine change
- Having unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
- Losing skills they once had (for example, stop saying words)
Diagnosing ASD can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. Currently, there is no cure for ASD; however, research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development.
It is very important to get help for ASD as soon as possible by contacting a child’s doctor and seeking the assistance of a specialist, such as a developmental pediatrician or a child neurologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. You can support Autism Awareness in your community in the following ways:
- Sign up for Autism Society’s Free E Newsletter
- Sign up for Autism Society Action Alerts
- Attend an Event
- Support Sensory Friendly Films
- Take a Free Course to learn more about ASD