Autism Spectrum Disorder

April is Autism Awareness Month! Did you know that 1 in 68 children has autism spectrum disorder? Or that 1% of the world’s population has autism? Did you know that it costs $8,600 extra to educate a child with autism per year? However, early interventions can reduce lifelong care cost.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

  • A group of complex neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior, difficulties with social communication and interaction.
  • Autism affects all racial groups and ethnicities equally.
  • Boys are significantly more likely to develop autism.
  • Autism is diagnosed using a the DSM-V.
  • Children are screened between 18-24 months.
  • Vaccines do not cause autism. The MMR vaccine does not cause autism.
  • Symptoms can improve over time and with therapy.

What are signs of autism?

  • By 6 months – few/no smiles, no warm expressions, limited or no eye contact
  • By 9 moths – little or no back and forth smiles/sounds/facial expressions
  • By 12 months – little or no babbling, little or no back and forth gestures (pointing, reaching, showing, waving), little or no response to name
  • By 16 months – no or very few words
  • By 24 months – very few or no meaningful 2 word phrases (not counting imitating or repeating)
  • At any age – loss of language skills, avoidance of eye contact, persistent preference of solitude, difficulty understanding other people’s feelings, delayed language development, persistent repetition of words or phrases, resistance to minor changes, restricted interests, repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning), unusual and intense reactions to sounds/smells/tastes/textures/light/colors

What should you do if you are concerned that your child may have autism? Go see your doctor or friendly pediatric nurse practitioner for evaluation.

The fantastic information above and more can be found at autismspeaks.org and autism-society.org and cdc.gov/ncbdd/autism/index.html