Autism Spectrum Disorder

1. Autism Spectrum Disorder

1.1 What is Autism

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first to years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults on the autism spectrum typically shows difficulties in verbal and non verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.

Autism is one of live disorder that fall under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development”

Autism knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries, family income level, lifestyle choices, or educational levels, and can affect any family and any child.

Although the overall incidence of autism is consistent around the globe, it is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls.

1.2 Facts and Statistics

  1. 1% of the population of children in the US age 3-17 have an autism spectrum disorder
  2. Prevalence is estimated at 1 in 110 births
  3. 1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder
  4. Fastest growing developmental disability; 1,148% growth rate
  5. 10 – 17% annual growth
  6. $60 billion annual cost
  7. 60% of costs are in adult services
  8. Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention
  9. In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion
  10. 1% of the adult population of the UK have an autism spectrum disorder

Information is taken from US Autism Society Website  

1.3 Why is Early Intervention So Important

Early Intervention is define as services delivered to children from birth to age 3, and research shows that it has dramatic  impact on reducing the symptom of ASD. Studies in early childhood development have shown that the youngest brains are the most flexible. In autism, we see that intensive early intervention yields a tremendous amount of progress in children by the time they enter kindergarten, often reducing the need for intensive support.

Though there is no single known cause or cure, autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies shows that early diagnosis and intervention can lead to significantly improved outcomes. With the right services and support, people with autism can live full, healthy and meaningful lives.

1.4 What Can I Do To Support My Child

First of all, arrange for a proper assessment of the child with a qualified psychologist/psychiatrist. A thorough assessment is not for us to “label” a child as autistic, but for us to understand the areas of weaknesses caused by characteristics of autism so that we can better help the child cope with the challenges ahead and help him achieve his fullest potential.

Numerous studies have indicated that children with autism benefit the most when there is intervention involving support from therapists, educators, caregivers, and most important of all is parent participation.

Hence it’s crucial that parents should gather as much information on autism as possible. It’s also important to be discerning when choosing the training programs or workshops to attend as there are many unproven “revolutionary therapies” available in the market.

Attending training programs offered by school or institutions that are accredited by the governing ministries or universities is one good way to enhance your knowledge of autism. Joining the local National Autism Society is another good way of receiving information and support for both the parent and child with autism