WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism is a neurological (brain) and developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate, to reason, and to interact with others. Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees of severity, and is often found in combination with other disabilities. The term “autism” comes from the Greek “autos” for “self. With the publication of the DMS-5, the different conditions once found under the umbrella term of Pervasive Developmental Disorders are now called Autism Spectrum Disorders. Individuals should not “lose” their previous diagnosis under the new evaluation system. Those previously diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrome will still be considered to be “on the autism spectrum”.
PREVALENCE OF AUTISM
Autism is the most common of the developmental disorders, affecting an estimated 1 in 68 births (Centers for Disease Control Prevention). Roughly translated, this means as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form of autism. And this number is on the rise.
Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and other governmental agencies, autism is growing at a startling rate of 10-17 percent per year. At this rate, the ASA estimates that the prevalence of autism could reach 4 million Americans in the next decade.
Autism knows no racial, ethnic, social boundaries, family income, lifestyle, or educational levels and can affect any family, and any child. And although the overall incidence of autism is consistent around the globe, it is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls.
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