September 25, 2018
OUR VIEW

April is Autism Awareness Month

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The prevalence of autism in births continues to rise across the country. According to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2016 the prevalence of autism had risen to one in every 68 births in the U.S., almost twice as much as the rate of one in 125 in 2004.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to take a look at this disorder that continues to affect more people throughout the country.

According to the Autism Society, autism is treatable. Studies show that early diagnosis and intervention can lead to improved outcomes. Some signs of autism to look for in children are:

• Lack of or delay in spoken language

• Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (i.e., hand-flapping, twirling objects)

• Little or no eye contact

• Lack of interest in peer relationships

• Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play

• Persistent fixation on parts of objects

According to the Autism Society, early diagnosis of autism can provide the basis for an appropriate educational and treatment program. However, other medical conditions or syndromes can be similar to the symptoms of autism, making it difficult to diagnose properly. The CDC says there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder.

Instead, developmental screening and comprehensive diagnostic evaluation are necessary to diagnose autism.

There is no medication that can cure autism. However, some medications can help people with autism function better, according to the CDC. Medication might help with high energy levels, inability to focus, depression or seizures, for example.

Other types of treatment include behavior and communication approaches, dietary approaches, medication and complementary and alternative medicine.

While we hope research will continue on autism and that someday its prevalence will be slowed if not stopped, in the meantime both individuals and the community must be inclusive of autistic individuals, providing opportunities for equal participation.

For more information about autism, as well as signs to look for and options for dealing with the disorder, visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov, www.autismspeaks.org, or the Autism Society at www.autism-society.org.

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