Today, April 2, is recognized nationally as Autism Awareness Day. What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? It is a developmental disorder that many specialists believe is noticeable within the first three years after conception. The signs aren’t in how children look – but in their behaviors and in how they reach their age appropriate benchmarks. Some of the behaviors can seem disturbing to those observing the children; behaviors like rocking, irritation at physical touch, sensitivity to certain sights and sounds and more.
Many parents think that because their child speaks or is intellectually gifted, they couldn’t fall under the spectrum of disorders on the ASD umbrella. It’s important to have your child screened by a pediatrician or a clinical psychologist trained in diagnosing ASD if you notice social or behavioral problems that just can’t be explained away. Instead of your child being considered on the low-functioning end of the scale – he or she could classify under the higher functioning end which includes Asperger’s Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
According to the Autism Research Institute, “…since the early 1990s, the rate of autism has increased dramatically around the world, with figures as high as 60 per 10,000. In March, 2012, the US Federal Centers for Disease Control that 1 in 88 children in the US is diagnosed with an ASD.”
John Hopkins’ Institute performed a study in 2006 that found that only eight percent of pediatricians routinely screen for autism. Therefore, it is up to parents and educators to learn more about ASD and keep an eye out for signs in children. There are many agencies like Autism Society of Illinois that provide resources and advocacy for families who are dealing with a child living with one of the spectrum disorders.
Arm yourself with the best weapon against ASD that you can have. Knowledge.