p>According to the Center For Disease Control, 1 out of 110 children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. To honor Autism Awareness Month, I’d like to take some time to discuss the different disorders in order to spread knowledge and help people understand the implications of the disorder as well as what it means for schools.
Autism affects individuals from all ethnicities and classes, though little research has been done outside the United States. It is 4 times more likely to affect boys than girls. Autism does not necessarily come with implications of other mental disorders, however, studies show that roughly 10% of individuals who are autistic also have identifiable genetic/mental/neurological disorders, such as Down Syndrome. Autism, Rett, and Asperger’s disorders all fall under the ASD or pervasive development disorder categories.
Signs of autism can come late. Infants may exhibit normal development up until 12-18 months, gaining the ability to speak some words and then lose them entirely. Roughly 40% of children with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) cannot speak at all. Others gain the ability to speak later in childhood. The average age of diagnosis is between 4 and 5 years, but parents are encouraged to act early and look for signs throughout early development. The earlier ASD is detected, the longer you have to act against it and counter most of its troubles (particularly if on the less severe side of the spectrum). Early intervention is stressed by experts across the board.
The following are signs to look for:
- no smiles or warm expressions by or after 6 months of age
- lack of responsive expressions, either facial or physical (pointing, waving) between 9 and 12 months
- no early communication (babbling, etc.) by 12 months
- sudden loss of communication skills (at any age)
Familiarizing yourself with typical milestones may also be helpful.
What can you do to help? The first step to helping is to simply spread knowledge. The greater awareness around it, the greater the likelihood of finding a cure.