What is Autism?
Autism is a neuro-developmental disability that impacts an individual’s ability to regulate sensory input, to communicate, to interact socially, and to learn in conventional ways. Autism is also a spectrum disorder and so affects each individual differently and at varying degrees. Early intervention is crucial to mitigate the degree of impact: by learning the signs early, a child can begin benefiting from one of the many specialized intervention programs.
- 1 in 88 children, and 1 in 54 boys, has Autism today—around 2% of 3-17 year olds in the United States
- There is a 4:1 ratio of boys to girls diagnosed with Autism
- Autism knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries
- A family with a child with Autism may require $3 to $5 million dollars of services throughout the child’s lifetime
- Autism is the fastest growing diagnosis in the California Special Education system
- In the past eight years, the number of students with Autism in Santa Clara County has more than tripled from 1 in 348 to 1 in 104
- In 2009 alone, the number of students affected by Autism in six Bay Area counties increased by 707—this is almost 4 new students added every day of the regular academic year
Since Autism is considered a spectrum disorder, there is a wide variety of signs that they may vary in severity. Common indicators include:
- Over and under sensitivity to senses: sound, sight, taste, touch and smell
- Impaired social skills (i.e. no eye contact, no age appropriate peers and no emotional sharing)
- Stereotypical or rigid repetitive behaviors (i.e. difficulties with change, abnormal preoccupation)
- Communication problems and difficulty understanding language (i.e. echolalia, delayed speech, non-responsiveness)
- Problems understanding metaphors—prone to literal interpretation only