The term “autism” has been around for over 100 years, although it wasn’t until 1943 that “autism” became a diagnostic term. Today, 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Below are some facts about autism, including signs, symptoms, and ways to treat.
1. Autism can have both social and behavioral effects on an individual.
Often, severe forms of ASD get diagnosed within the first two years of a child’s life, but people with milder symptoms may not get diagnosed until later in life. Signs of autism include:
- Persistent preference for solitude
- Does not understand personal space boundaries
- Avoids eye contact
- Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
- Problems processing physical sensations
- Delayed language development or loss of previously acquired speech
- Obsessive devotion to routines and resistance to minor changes in routines or surroundings
- Persistent repetition of words or phrases
- Repetitive behaviors and movement patterns (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
- Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
2. There are three levels to categorize autism.
Autism is categorized by levels 1, 2, and 3, depending on social and behavioral signs. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) classifies autism by these three levels:
This level often gets referred to as “mild autism” or “high functioning” autism. People who have Level 1 ASD may struggle in social situations, prefer to stick to established routines, and feel uncomfortable with changes or unexpected events. Most people with Level 1 ASD can communicate verbally; however, they may struggle to maintain a conversation, and making and keeping friends may not come easily or naturally to them.
Level 2 ASD is the middle-range of autism regarding the severity of symptoms and needs for support. People with Level 2 ASD may have routines or habits that they feel they must do and, if these get interrupted, they become very uncomfortable or upset. Many people with Level 2 ASD cannot communicate verbally, while those who can verbally communicate may only have very brief conversations on specific topics. Those with Level 2 ASD need more support than people with Level 1 ASD.
Level 3 ASD is the severest form of autism. This level sometimes gets referred to as “low functioning” autism. People with Level 3 ASD often have restrictive or repetitive behaviors that get in the way of functioning independently with everyday activities. Although some people with Level 3 ASD can communicate verbally, most cannot or use minimal words. People with Level 3 ASD require very substantial support to learn the skills necessary for everyday living.
3. Autism is a developmental disability, not an illness.
Most scientists agree that genes are a key risk factor that can make someone more likely to develop Autism. Children born to older parents also have a higher risk of having Autism.
The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with Autism can range from gifted to severely challenged. 44% of people with Autism have IQ scores in the average to above-average range.
We do not know all of the causes of ASD. However, we have learned that there are likely many causes for multiple types of ASD. There may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors.
- Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop ASD.4, 19
- Children who have a sibling with ASD are at a higher risk of also having ASD. 5-10
- Individuals with certain genetic or chromosomal conditions, such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis, can have a greater chance of having ASD. 11-14, 20
- When taken during pregnancy, the prescription drugs valproic acid and thalidomide have been linked with a higher risk of ASD.15-16
- There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASD occurs before, during, and immediately after birth. 17
- Children born to older parents are at greater risk for having ASD. 18
4. Autism is 4x more common among boys than girls.
Estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network show that Autism is prevalent in 1 out of 34 boys, whereas, in girls, it’s 1 out of 144.
5. There is currently no cure for Autism, but there are several treatment options.
Early intervention provides the best opportunity for healthy development. Dynamis ABA provides comprehensive treatment approaches for individuals aged 3-21 years of age facing Autism. Click here to learn more.
If you would like to learn more about autism spectrum disorder or would like individualized assistance, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.