Does My Child Have Autism? Autism Awareness and Action
My neighbor’s son has autism. My friend’s son has autism. My cousin’s son has autism, albeit a high functioning form on the spectrum known as Asperger’s Syndrome. With such a significant influx of cases in the recent years, parents and families have become desperate for answers and have started to take action.
April is ‘National Autism Awareness Month’ as dedicated by Autism Speaks, the largest autism science-and-advocacy organization in the U.S. whose mission is to change the future for all who struggle with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The organization is dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder.
Autism Speaks defines autism as a general term to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). The other pervasive developmental disorders are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
After first becoming a parent, I learned everything I could about early childhood development, vaccinations and schedules, epidemics and every other childhood disease, disorder or syndrome out there. What alarmed me most was discovering the statistics and prevalence of autism.
Autism statistics as per the Centers for Disease Control:
- 1 in 110 children in the U.S. has an ASD, an ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’
- 600 percent increase in just the past 20 years
- Autism remains the fastest-growing developmental disability in the world
There are many debated theories as to the cause of autism from physical to environmental to genetic. And while there is no known cure, treatments such as a specialized diet, behavior and communication therapies and medications have been used to remedy symptoms and in some cases reverse the condition.
It is said that the signs of autism start to appear in a child most commonly between the ages of two and three years old. Here are some signs to look for:
- Lack of or delay in spoken language
- Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
- Little or no eye contact
- Lack of interest in peer relationships
- Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
- Persistent fixation on parts of objects
Early detection is key and seeking out and talking to others in similar circles can be helpful. Trust your gut instinct and talk to your pediatrician, a holistic practitioner or even an autism specialist if you have even the slightest concern regarding your child’s behavior. If you are curious to know more about autism, you can start by researching more information here: