This charts shows the different types of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Source: Parenting Healthy Babies.
In the present day, Autism has become more relevant than ever in the United States. In an updated study in 2013, the CDC has reported that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) affects 1 in 50 children in America. And this number is only based on the parents that actually report their child’s disability.
In 2002, the CDC reported that 1 in 150 children were affected by ASD. In 2004—1in 125, in 2006— 1 in 110, and in 2008— 1 in 88 children were affected. Over the span of 11 years, that is about a 300 percent increase in the number of reported cases of ASDs. What could be the cause of such a rapid increase?
This 2012 info-graphic shows the rising prevalence in ASDs in America. Source: CDC
ASDs are called “spectrum disorders” because they range in varying degrees from person to person, according to the CDC. One child may have very severe symptoms while another child may have very mild symptoms. However, all individuals suffering from ASDs share common issues with social interaction. From the CDC, here are the three main types of ASDs:
- Autistic Disorder – Also referred to as “classic autism,” individuals may show signs of difficulty in socialcommunication, language and speech, and also may display intellectual disability and unconventional interests and behaviors.
- Asperger Syndrome – Individuals with Asperger syndrome do not usually show signs of language delays or intellectual disability, but may display unconventional behaviors or interest and difficulty with social interactions.
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified – Also referred to as “atypical autism,” individuals with PDD-NOS may have lesser symptoms than those with autistic disorder, but still display communication and social difficulties.
Scientists of Durham University did a trial study on four-month-old Matai Reid to make strides toward autism research. Source: The Telegraph
The Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, FL offers help to autistic children through diagnosing an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the child, and through providing services or referrals. Nemours uses methods of developmental and neurological assessments, family counseling, brain imaging, psychiatric medication treatment, and also through speech and occupational therapy.
Leslie Gavin, Ph. D., is a psychologist at Nemours Children’s Hospital and works with many children on the ASD radar. Gavin says that Nemours is planning on creating an “early multidisciplinary evaluation team for local and out of state children.” Also, Nemours plans to start an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) team to provide outreach in the Orlando community. Out of all her patients, Gavin said that she has seen about 90 percent make some type of progress with their autism.
Gavin stated, “I follow many toddlers and young children that I have diagnosed and then referred out to the community for treatment. Some have made amazing progress and their autism is invisible for all intents and purposes. Some make slower progress. I would say that 90 percent make some progress in terms of speech and language, social interaction and ability to function independently in their self care.”
“Understanding the world of Autism helps the autistic understand the world.” Source: VIVA Jusoor
Kathy Chandler of Pennsylvania is a stay-at-home mom of three children, two out of which have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Living with her husband Lamar, who works over 40 hours a week, and raising three children—let alone two that have an ASD—is not an easy journey.
“Fox is 10, August is 8 and Ronin is 2. Fox and August both have autism. Fox is very high functioning while August is severely autistic with a secondary diagnosis of mental retardation (MR). August is non-verbal and still wears pull-ups,” she said.
She continued to discuss the difficulties Autism presented in their everyday family life. “We are limited to where we can go and what we can do. Lamar and I are in need of time together, but autism seems to force us to do things separately. A typical family event usually means that one of us has to stay back with August, so
“The longer a child with autism goes without help, the harder they are to reach.” Source: The Inspiration Room
we cannot go out as a family all the time. We are tired. I struggle with depression constantly. As a parent with a child with autism, you sometimes feel like a prisoner in your own home. It is very isolating,” she said.
Eight-year-old August with severe Autism, receives services such as, Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech Therapy (ST) and also Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). August additionally receives Home Health Aids (HHA) for 25 hours a week during the school year and during the summer, 40 hours of HHA. Chandler says she is actively trying to get August registered with the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.
Chandler knows that if she can get her son registered on the MR waiver, extra services will be provided to
The Kennedy Krieger Institute offers specialized programs for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
August for the long-term run, when he is adult. She said, “I know that he will need constant support and care for the rest of his life. My son Fox does not have the intense needs as his brother. He gets wrap around support, which helps him stay on task and teach him how to self regulate himself during a period of high stress and anxiety.”
Although August’s progress is slow, Chandler said that he has been improving each year in his receptive language. This was the result of an intense home therapy program before August started school. “His receptive language is improving each year. He understands a lot of what is said to him, even though he may not be able to always respond immediately.”