Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are general names for the collection of complex brain disorders which also include the Asperger Syndrome. These disorders affect both verbal and non verbal communication, social interaction, repetitive behavior and other issues, thereby making the persons suffering from the disorder “different” from people around them.
Many people with ASD may have excellent skills in the areas of math, music, visual skills and art. However, they could have problems with motor coordination, intellectual disability and physical health problems such as sleep issues and gastrointestinal problems. Autism affects everyone differently, so you can’t predict exactly how it will affect a child until you observe his / her behavior and see what happens.
ASD is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S. today. Approx 10% of the population in both the U.S. and the U.K. have ASD. In fact, autism is more common than diabetes, cancer and AIDS combined.
It costs about $60,000 per year to care for a child with autism. This means that many families facing this problem struggle to live above the poverty line. In addition to this, the divorce rate of families with one or more children suffering from autism is 60% higher, because of the higher level of stress placed on the parents.
Autism isn’t often detectable when a baby is first born, but within a short time, the baby tends to regress. Instead of developing normally, whatever skills the baby had developed will start to deteriorate with no warning.
71% of children with autism attend regular schools, but only 56% of those students complete high school, and many are simply unable to attend school in the first place. Boys are five times more likely to contract autism in comparison with girls, and it is a known fact that over 40% of children with autism are bullied at school.
Although autism is currently incurable, there are ways to manage it with support from family, friends and specialists. Many people with autism want to work; 61% of those who are unemployed say they want to work if given the chance.
Studies show that if the father of a newborn child is over 40 years old, the risk of the child being born with autism is six times bigger in comparison with a child having a father under the age of 30. The mother’s age seemingly has no effect on the level of risk involved. If a child has a parent or sibling with ASD, the risk is also higher that the baby will have autism.
Because of the broad spectrum of Autism related problems, it is vital that, if you notice any unusual behavior in your child, you seek the advice of your doctor and have tests run to determine if this condition is present. Once that’s established, the specialists will start creating a personalized autism management plan, which will help increase the child’s quality of life.