Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a collective term given to a group of bio-neurological developmental disabilities that impair the way that individuals interact and communicate with others. Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe and generally appears before the age of 3. Diagnostic categories for ASD include: Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett Syndrome
People with autism typically suffer from other conditions, which may include: allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, feeding disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, sleeping disorders, and more.
Autism is diagnosed four times more often in boys than girls. Its prevalence is not affected by race, region, or socio-economic status. A new case is 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. It costs the nation over $90 billion per year – a figure that is expected to double in the next decade.
Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood statistics. For example:
· 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
There is no medical detection or cure for autism – yet. But we are hopeful.