Recent studies and gathering of data by several professional institutions have revealed that autism affects an estimated 1 out of every 164 births in this country. That means that there are almost 1.5 million American children are afflicted with autism to some degree, where many of those are undiagnosed. For reasons as yet unknown, autism has an annual growth rate of more than 14%, which makes it one of the leading developmental disability afflictions in children today. |
The instance of autism is not relegated to just children, nor does it seem to afflict any particular person based on race or social structure. It also does not appear to be a result of any injury or accident that may have involved trauma. One thing that is known, however, is that males are about 4 times more likely to have autism than females.
In order to properly understand autism, also known as autistic spectrum disorder or ASD, we need to first begin with a definition of what autism is, as well as what it is not. Autism is one of several cognitive disorders that have a detrimental effect on the developmental or learning ability of the afflicted individual. Autism can be detected as early as age 2 or 3 in most children, and is thought to be a neurological disorder that plays varying degrees of havoc with how the brain interprets different information. The most common signs seen are that autism causes difficulty with the childs communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal. In other words, from the non-verbal standpoint, the afflicted child typically has problems with social interactions with other children, their peers, and even their parents.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD is crucial to be diagnosed as early as possible in the childs life, especially when you consider that there are varying degrees of autism, ranging from very mild to severe. If the presence of autism is diagnosed early, the parents of the child can make arrangements to allow the child to benefit from professionals at school, perhaps even a specialized school, where the teachers have received training in autism and understanding how to teach the autistic child.
One of the common myths about autism is that children afflicted with this disorder are lacking in intelligence. This is not necessarily the case, and in fact in terms of intelligence, the autistic child can rank right up there with their peers. The movie Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman illustrated this, where Dustin Hoffman played an autistic adult with many social interaction problems, but yet was a genius in the casino and with numbers in general.
There are several characteristics that autistic people will display that can be a clue to the potential presence of autism. Unfortunately, there are no conclusive laboratory tests that can definitively state whether or not a person has autism, simply because it really is a neurological disorder. Such characteristics include, as discussed above, difficulty in verbal and non-verbal communication, distinct resistance to change in schedule or routine, an abnormally low threshold for pain, difficulty or discomfort in making eye contact, and a tendency to fixate on a particular object for very long periods of time.
Understanding the characteristics of autistic spectrum disorder or ASD so that it can be accurately diagnosed is the first step towards creating an effective course of action to working with that child during their developmental years. Jon is a computer engineer who maintains web sites on a variety of topics based on his knowledge and experience. You can read more about Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorder at his web site Autism Explained.
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