April is “Autism Awareness Month.” The goal of this month is to not only educate the public and build awareness around autism spectrum disorders, but to also shine a light on the difficulties and challenges children with autism face. One way for you to do that is by taking a look at some autism facts to help you better understand.
According to researchers at autismspeaks.org Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions. These conditions are characterized by:
- Challenges with social skills
- Repetitive behaviors, speech
- Nonverbal communication
Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder like to follow a routine, and changes to the routine can cause distress. It’s important to note that there is not one autism, but many types, so keeping all of the facts about autism straight can be difficult to do. So, let’s go over some autism facts, including some of the early warning signs parents can look for in their children.
Autism Fact: Boys Are More Susceptible
Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism. In fact, autism affects 1 in every 42 boys and 1 in every 189 girls. Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S.
Researchers believe females are better able to overcome these genetic mutations. In other words, their bodies are more equipped to deal with the severe mutations while males are more at risk for having them result in disease, but more studies are needed.
Autism Fact: Typically Appears Around Age 2
Autism’s most-obvious signs typically appear between ages two and three, but it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months.
Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. They include:
- By 6 months, limited or no eye contact, no social smiles
- By 9 months, no sharing of vocal sounds, smiles or other nonverbal communication
- By 12 months, no babbling, no use of gestures like pointing or waving, no response to name
- By 16 months, no words
- By 24 months, no meaningful, two-word phrases
Although the signs tend to show up at an early age, some people aren’t diagnosed until later in life.
Autism Fact: Screening is Recommended
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends autism screening at all 18 and 24-month well-child visits and anytime a parent or doctor has concerns. But you don’t have to wait.
You can request an autism screening any time from your child’s doctor and/or your state’s Early Intervention Program. This type of screening does not diagnose autism, but looks at the behaviors considered to be “red flags” for autism.
Autism Fact: There is No Cure
There is no medical detection or cure for autism. This does not mean, however, that nothing can be done to help a person who is on the autism spectrum. The charity Research Autism and a number of other organizations are studying interventions.
Treatment options change as your child gets older. For example:
- Early Intervention—focuses on behavior and can include family training
- School Age—may include specialized or social skills training
- Adolescents—interventions that will help your child become independent
Keep in mind, no two children are alike, so your child’s treatment intervention will be specialized to fit their needs.
Now that you know some of the facts about autism, maybe you’d like to show some support. One of the ways you can do that is by wearing the official color for National Autism Awareness Month. It is bright royal blue.
If you’re looking for more information on childhood development and answers to some of the most common questions parents ask their pediatricians about their kids; download our free guide “From Crib to College.” It includes prescription tips and an immunization schedule.