About Autism

What is Autism ?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. Autism is one of a group of serious developmental disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) that appear during early childhood and typically endure throughout a person's lifetime. Other ASD subgroups include Asperger's Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Delay-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), among others.

When Can Autism be Detected ?

Children with autism may be diagnosed as early as 18 months-old. A reliable diagnosis can usually take place by the time a child is 3 years-old. Parents who have concerns or suspicions that their child exhibits symptoms of autism should contact their pediatrician as soon as possible.

Who is Affected ?

An estimated 1 in 150 children are currently diagnosed with autism, compared to 1 in 5,000 children 25 years ago. Some estimates indicate that the occurrence of autism is growing at a rate of 20% per year.

While autism is four times more likely to occur in boys than girls, it has been found to affect all racial, ethnic and social groups.

Autism Symptoms

Because ASDs cover a wide range of disorders, people with autism exhibit varying symptoms. Often, a child with autism exhibits little interest in the world around them. Some children with autism never even learn to talk. Despite the varying degrees of symptoms, children with autism typically experience difficulty in three significant areas of development: social skills, language and behavior.

For more information on symptoms and other behavioral characteristics of children with autism, please refer to the NSAC Link page.

Treatment of Autism

To date, science has revealed no cure for autism. There is much evidence, though, that early intensive treatment can have a tremendous, positive impact on the experiences of many children (and their families) living with the disorder. Some of the interventions found to help people with autism are physical therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy and speech therapy, among many others.

For more information on treatment and other therapies, please visit the NSAC Link page.