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What is Autism? Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on an analysis of all behaviors and their severity.

Know the signs: Early identification can change lives

Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. For more information on developmental milestones, visit the CDC’s “Know the Signs. Act Early” site.

HERE ARE SOME SIGNS TO LOOK FOR IN THE CHILDREN IN YOUR LIFE:

    •  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

About 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder. More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. Prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). (CDC, 2014) Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability but great strides have been made in diagnosis and management.

Early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes and quality of life for children and their families. If you have questions, talk to our Parish Nurse, Judi at 752-3159 or speak to your pediatrician.