Autism Alliance


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What Is Autism?

group of peopleAutism is a developmental disability that appears during the first three years of life.

Now it affects 1 in 99 births
1 to 1.5 million Americans
Fastest-growing developmental disability
10 - 17 % annual growth

Growth comparison during the 1990s

U.S. population increase: 13%
Disabilities increase: 16%
Autism increase: 172%

(Stats From the DOE and CDC )

It is four times more prevalent in boys than girls.

This neurological disorder interferes with the normal development of the brain. Communication, social interaction, sensory impairment, play, and behaviors may be affected. Intensity and severity can vary from symptom to symptom, which is why autism is often referred to as a spectrum disorder. The behavior usually occurs across many different situations and is consistently inappropriate for their age. Diagnosis is difficult for professionals with limited exposure to autism, because the characteristics vary so much. Ideally a child should be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team which may include a neurologist, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, or speech/language therapist.

Individuals with autism usually have at least half of the traits listed below:

  • Difficulty in mixing with other children

  • Insistence on sameness: resists change in routine

  • Inappropriate laughing or giggling

  • No real fear of dangers

  • Little or no eye contact

  • Unresponsive to normal teaching methods

  • Sustained odd play

  • Apparent insensitivity to pain

  • Echolalia (repeating words and phrases in place of normal language)
  • Prefers to be alone; aloof manner

  • May not want cuddling or act cuddly

  • Spins objects

  • Noticeable physical overactivity or extreme underactivity

  • Tantrums, displays extreme distress for no apparent reason

  • Not responsive to verbal clues; acts as if deaf

  • Inappropriate attachments to objects

  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills

  • Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words



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