What is Autism?



Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental and neurological disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.  ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity. 


The prevalence of Autism has risen to 1 in 45 births in the United States! The spotlight shining on autism as a result has opened opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve families facing a lifetime of supports for their children. In June 2014, researchers estimated the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism is as great as $2.4 million. The Autism Society estimates that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism. 

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Last but not least, some explanation for anyone unfamiliar with some of the language used…

Neurotypical = the majority/average brain, in context to this a non-autistic person
Neurodiverse = the opposite, but some people use this term to refer to more then just autism, things such as dyslexia, adhd etc.
Savant Skills = being extremely good in one area of thinking, I guess the most common one is being extremely good at math and having a perfect memory.

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