Autism spectrum disorder is 4.5 times more common among boys than among girls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around one in 68 children is identified as being on the autism spectrum, ranging from Asperger’s Syndrome to severe autism.
What Is Autism?
Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental disability. Autism makes it difficult to process or recognize emotions. Furthermore, people with ASD communicate and interact differently from what is considered to be normative. Additionally, autism signs include avoiding eye contact and becoming lost in external stimuli. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people on the autism spectrum can range from above average to severely challenged. Therefore, some people on the higher end of the autism spectrum require full-time care, while those on the less severe end of the spectrum are capable of living functional, independent lives.
Autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella diagnosis that now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger’s syndrome. Typically, autism symptoms first appear in a child before the age of three.
There is no medical test for autistic disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, or any of the other disorders on the autism spectrum. Instead, autism symptoms and social behavior are used to make an assessment. Moreover, there is no known cure for autism. However, research shows that early interventions, when applied to autism spectrum disorder, can greatly improve a child’s development.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health and Human Services (NIH), National Institute of Mental Health