Globally, 1 in every 160 children is autistic. In the U.S., 1 in every 54 children is on the spectrum. Autism occurs across race and gender and touches tens of millions of people around the world. Here are some quick facts on what autism is, prevalence rates, how it’s diagnosed, and accepted therapies.
What is Autism?
Autism is considered a “spectrum disorder,” and is formally known as “autism spectrum disorder.” Although everyone diagnosed with an ASD will exhibit some characteristic differences in behavior and social communication, there is tremendous variation within the population. Diagnosticians will specify the level of autism present, with level one indicating the person’s constellation of symptoms will require minimal levels of support and intervention for independent living and level three indicating a need for substantial support.
What is Autism from the perspective of the person?
What are the Autism prevalence rates in the United States?
Currently, 1 in 54 children is estimated to be diagnosed with ASD. Autism usually appears by age 2 or 3, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months.
While Autism occurs across race, socio-economic classes, and geographic locations, boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. Additionally, studies have shown that while prevalence rates across white, black, and Asian were around the same, prevalence rates for Hispanic children were significantly lower suggesting that those children were not being identified as often as other races.
How is Autism diagnosed?
Autism usually appears by age 2 or 3, but can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for autistic individuals.
The diagnosis is usually initiated by a pediatrician who identifies social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The pediatrician will then recommend either self-monitoring by the parent or refer the child to a clinical specialist such as a developmental pediatrician or clinical psychologist for a diagnostic evaluation. The results of the formal assessment will determine whether a child needs special treatments, early intervention services or both.
What therapies are used to support autistic individuals?
There are a number of therapies related to autism spectrum disorder including Applied Behavior Analysis, Speech Therapy, and Occupational Therapy.
To learn more about Applied Behavior Analysis, read our overview here.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.htm
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