Autism spectrum disorder
Autism is a general term for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized by difficulties in social interaction, both verbal and non verbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
It has its roots in very early brain development. Obvious signs of autism appear between the ages of 2 and 3. Early diagnosis is very important since intervention through therapy can improve the outcome.
According to statistics, 1 in 68 American children suffer from autism, a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. This increase is accredited to widespread awareness and improved diagnosis.
Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States. Big difference right?
Autism affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Only recently, scientists discovered that there is no one cause of autism. Rare gene changes and mutations are associated with autism. Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of risk genes and environmental factors surrounding brain growth.
Some genetic causes include; advanced parental age of both parents, maternal illness during pregnancy, difficulties during birth especially those that deprive the baby of oxygen. A growing body of research suggests that women can reduce risk of having a child with autism by taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid before and after conception.
Each individual with autism is unique, have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music, art and academic skills. Others have disability and cannot live independently. Families can attest to the fact that raising an autistic child needs lots of care but in the end, love counts more than anything. It is not the end of the world.