Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. Autism Spectrum Disorders are the result of a neurological disorder that affects functioning of the brain. These disorders occur in at least one in every 88 individuals and can occur in different forms, which are sometimes called “autism spectrum disorders.”
It is four to five times more common in males and occurs in all social and ethnic groups. Family income, lifestyle and education do not affect the chance of occurrence.
Autism interferes with the development of the brain in reasoning, social interaction and communication skills. People with autism typically have deficiencies in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and leisure or play activities. The disorder makes it hard for them to communicate and relate to others. They may resist changes in routine, exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking, etc.) and have unusual responses to people or attachments to objects. Sometimes aggressive or self-injurious behavior occurs.
About 2,500,000 people in the U.S. (over 42,000 in South Carolina) have some form of autism, but some experts believe this could be a conservative figure. Its prevalence rate places it as one of the three most common developmental disabilities — more common than Down syndrome. Yet the majority of the public, including some professionals in the medical, educational and vocational fields, are still unaware of how autism affects behavior. Progress is being made in developing more effective teaching methods and other interventions for individuals with autism.
On March 30, 2012 the ADDM (Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring) Netowrk released the prevalence rate of ASDs is 1 in 88, or 1 in 54 males and 1 in 252 females, based on data gathered in 2008. The CDC website contains the detailed report.
These results indicate the need to regard ASDs as an urgent public health concern.