4 Shocking Facts About Autism Spectrum Disorders
The Autism Society has chosen April as National Autism Awareness Month. This month is used as a time during which facts about autism can be showed with the public – despite the growing prevalence of autism, there are still many public misconceptions about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
This month was first founded over 25 years ago as a nationwide effort to eliminate misconceptions about autistic people, and promote knowledge of ASDs, treatment and mitigation of autism, and to ensure that autistic people are accepted in schools, workplaces, and communities.
Awareness of autism can be promoted by engaging with local autism support centers and special events, donating to The Autism Society, or buying a puzzle ribbon to show that you are helping to support autistic people, and are dedicated to their cause.
To aid in this noble effort, we’ve taken the time to put together a list of facts about autism that you may not know. By sharing this information with friends, family, and coworkers such as nurses who may be unaware of the impact of autism, you’re sure to make a difference this April during Autism Awareness Month.
- Autism Spectrum Disorders Affect 1 In 68 Children – And Autism Prevalence Is Growing
Autism prevalence in the US has hit an alarming rate of 1 in 68 children, and medical professionals are becoming increasingly concerned about what appears to be a growing rate of ASD prevalence in the US.
To give you an idea about just how quickly autism diagnoses have risen, the average rate in the 1970s and 1980s was just under 1 in 2000. This means that, over the last several decades, autism prevalence has risen by nearly 3000%, and there are signs that this trend will continue in future years.
There are some debates about the exact figures mentioned above and whether or not increased understanding of ASDs has simply led to more diagnoses in the last 30 years. But there is still a growing autism problem in America, and scientists have not yet discovered why this is the case.
- Boys Are Five Times More Likely To Suffer From Autism Than Girls
The rate of diagnosis for ASDs in boys is around 1 in 42, while in girls of similar ages, diagnosis rates hover at about 1 in 189. There is no scientific consensus about why this is – but there are several promising areas of research which could help explain this fact.
Geneticists in Switzerland have come up with a hypothesis called the “female protective model”. This hypothesis sets forth the idea that girls have a higher tolerance for harmful genetic mutations – thus requiring a larger amount of mutations to be diagnosed with an ASD, as compared to a boy.
This could also explain why girls tend to be diagnosed with more severe forms of ASDs, and why boys are more likely to be diagnosed with conditions like ADHD and schizophrenia.
- No Autism Spectrum Disorder Is The Same
The current moniker of “Autism Spectrum Disorder” was set forth by the the APA DSM-5 in 2013. This term reflects the fact that each and every autistic person is different, and can have unique symptoms and difficulties ranging from social awkwardness to a complete inability to speak.
Before 2013, autism was classified under four umbrella terms:
- Autistic disorder
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)
- Asperger syndrome
The elimination of these separate categories has made it much easier to approach the autism spectrum as a whole, under the term “Autism Spectrum Disorder”. This term incorporates the fact that each individual affected by autism is wholly unique, and should be approached as such by both families and medical professionals.
Flexible tools like the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ETEC) are now being used by professionals worldwide to aid in diagnosing and evaluating each individual case of autism –
- Autism Does Not Affect Life Expectancy, And Autistic People Can Lead Healthy, Happy Lives
Unlike some other genetic and developmental disorders, autism tends to have little-to-no effect on life expectancy.
Though some other disorders such as epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, anxiety disorders, and sleeping disabilities can occur with autism, an autism spectrum diagnosis has little effect on the life expectancy of a child or an adult. However, mortality risks have been noted to increase in autistic people, generally due to drowning and other accidents.
Overall, though, people who have autism can be treated and live normal, happy lives – especially if preventative and treatment measures are taken early in life. Most forms of autism are treatable, and with proper care, the men and women around the world who are affected by ASDs can live happy, long, and satisfying lives.
Get Involved – And Spread The Word During Autism Awareness Month
If one of your loved ones is affected by autism, or you’d simply like to show your support during Autism Awareness Month, consider getting involved with an organization like The Autism Society. From attending events, talking to local affiliates, or simply signing up for their e-newsletter for autism news, there is plenty to do if you’d like to further your knowledge about ASDs.
Autism is a terrible genetic disease – but there is hope. Research to find a cure is ongoing, and because autism symptoms can be treated, even people with severe ASD diagnoses have the ability to live long, happy lives.