Along with National Child Abuse Awareness Month, April is also Autism Awareness Month. We here at the ASAP Foundation are all about bettering the lives of all children. According to Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 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. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperser 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 is not uncommon. In the United States alone, over 2 million people are affected by this disorder. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are around 1 in 88 American children on the autism spectrum–a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Studies also show that autism is three to four times more common among boys than girls. 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed with autism in the US. Unfortunately, other than improved diagnosis and more awareness about the disorder, there is no further explanation about the increased number of those affected over the years.