Parents, guardians and students, do not forget that Thursday, April 2nd is World Autism Day. The day has been officially recognized by the United Nations to recognize and grow understanding of autism.
How can you get involved? Learn more about autism by checking out the link below. Replace a light bulb(s) in your home with a blue light bulb (especially an outside light!). By 2012, Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue campaign continued to raise awareness worldwide. Nearly 3000 structures in over 600 cities, 45 countries and on 6 continents illuminated in blue to shine a bright light on autism.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified(PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.
ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role.
How Common is Autism?
Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 68 children as on the autism spectrum–a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Careful research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. 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.
ASD affects tens of millions worldwide. Moreover, government autism statistics suggest that prevalence rates have increased 10 to 17 percent annually in recent years. There is no established explanation for this continuing increase, although improved diagnosis and environmental influences are two reasons often considered.