In Touch with You Blog
April is World Autism Awareness Month, a global effort to raise awareness and attention on the issues affecting those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. and costs families $60,000 a year on average. Even though autism is widespread, awareness about the condition is not.
Autism is a complex mental condition and developmental disability, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with other people. Autism can be present from birth or form during early childhood (typically within the first three years). Autism is a lifelong developmental disability with no single known cause.
People with autism are classed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the terms autism and ASD are often used interchangeably. A wide spectrum disorder, people with autism have symptoms unique to themselves. While no two people with autism will have the same set of symptoms, there are common characteristics found in those with this complex disability. Briefly, these characteristics include:
- Empathy – empathy is the ability to recognize and understand the feelings of another person. People with autism find it harder to show empathy to others although they can be taught to acknowledge the feelings of others.
- Physical Contact – in some cases, autistic people do not like physical contact such as hugs, tickling or physical play with others.
- Sudden Changes To Their Environment – a sudden change in the surrounding environment may affect a person with autism. This could be a loud noise, a change in intensity of lighting or even a change in smell.
- Speech – speech can be affected in people with autism. 'Echolalia' is a typical speech symptom in which the person repeats words and phrases that they hear. The speech tone of an autistic person may be monotonous. Where symptoms are more extreme the person may not speak.
- Changes To Behavior and Routine – people with autism often display repetitive behavior in which they repeat the same action many times over. For example, a person with autism may repeatedly pace around a room in a certain direction. Any change to their behavior or routine can be unsettling for them. This could be a reordering of daily activities such as when a person brushes their teeth, takes a shower and has breakfast in the morning.
- Other characteristics – an unpredictable learning rate, obsessions and physical tics.
In a March 2013 article in U.S. News & World Report, the CDC stated that one in 50 school-aged children in U.S. has autism ... a significant increase in the prevalence of the condition over the past five years. Think of it this way, the average school bus holds about 50 children, so there is typically one child with autism spectrum disorder on every full school bus in America.
This new information is the conclusion of a survey done by the National Survey of Children's Health of nearly 100,000 households across America. It also found that boys were more than four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls, which has been the historical trend.
According to researchers, children who have not been diagnosed in the past are now being diagnosed, likely due to doctors and other health care providers getting better at recognizing more of the milder symptoms of autism. With appropriate diagnosis and access to services, a child with autism can improve in the way they function and how they are able to be successful in life.
At PVHMC, the pediatric therapists at Milestones Center for Child Development work with children diagnosed with autism through physical, occupational and speech therapy. Milestones is located in Claremont at the Pomona Valley Health Center. For more information visit our website by clicking here or contact Milestones at 909-621-7956 ... and ask for Urvashi Iyer, SLP, Hazel Manabat, DPT, or Jennifer Ramos, OTR.