What is Autism?
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.


Information about Autism:

  • 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism today with numbers rising
  • 1 in 94 boys is on the autism spectrum, since for some reason autism is 4 times more prevalent in boys than girls
  • 67 children are diagnosed each day, with a new case being diagnosed every 20 minutes
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer COMBINED
  • Autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States
  • Autism costs the nation over $90 billion per year, a figure expected to double in the next decade
  • Insurance companies will not cover therapies or treatments for autism, which leaves a great financial burden on the parents
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • There is currently no medical detection or cure for autism


Incidence vs. Private Funding:

  • Leukemia: affects 1 in 25,000 / funding = $310 million
  • Muscular Dystrophy: affects 1 in 20,000 / funding = $ 175 million
  • Pediatric AIDS: affects 1 in 8,000 / funding = $394 million
  • Juvenile Diabetes: affects 1 in 500 / funding = $130 million
  • AUTISM: affects 1 in 150 / funding = $15 million


Core Symptoms of Autism:

The severity of these symptoms varies greatly between individuals, however, all people with autism have some core symptoms in the areas listed below.


v     Social Interaction and Relationships-Symptoms may include:

§         Problems developing nonverbal communication skills such as eye to eye gaze and facial expression

§         Failure to establish age appropriate friendships

§         Lack of empathy; people with autism seem to have difficulty understanding another person’s feelings

v     Verbal and Nonverbal Communication-Symptoms may include:

§         Delay or lack of learning to talk;  as many as 50% of people with autism never speak

§         Stereotyped and repetitive use of language;  people with autism may repeat a phrase they have heard (sometimes from a  t.v. show) This is called echolalia 

v     Limited interests in activities or play-Symptoms may include:

§     Unusual preoccupation with pieces or parts of a whole (such as spinning the wheels on a toy car instead of zooming it around)

§     A need for sameness and routines;  they have a need to drive a certain route every day, or do things in a certain order each time; if not, this can cause great frustration

§     Stereotyped Behaviors; such as rocking back and forth, flapping hands, spinning in circles.  This is also called self stimulatory behavior or “stimming” which helps them regulate their senses.


About 10% of people with autism have some form of savant skills or special gifts such as memorizing lists, drawing or musical ability.


Many people with autism have unusual sensory perceptions.  For example they may describe light touch as painful, or deep pressure as providing a calming feeling.  Some people with autism may have strong food aversions and insist one eating only certain textures.


This information was compiled from www.autismspeaks.org .  You can visit their site for even more info.  You can also visit www.firstsigns.org for recognizing the early signs of developmental and behavioral disorders. 


If  I can be of any help or support to you please feel free to contact me at :  eandddspurgeon@aol.com