Autism is a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by poor communication skills and impaired social interaction. Although we have been aware of the autism spectrum for some time now, there is still much we don’t know about it. We do know that there is a strong genetic component, new diagnoses are being made each year, and there is no cure.
Autism awareness has grown significantly in recent years, as have advancements in treatment, However, this devastating and fast-growing developmental disorder can take an enormous toll on individuals and families. It is estimated that one in fifty children have an autism spectrum disorder, and it is currently the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States with a 10 to 17 percent annual growth in cases. This is most likely due to increased awareness of the disorder and improved diagnostic techniques. In other words, autism has most likely always been this common, but we have only recently learned to recognize it. Currently, an estimated 2 million people in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder. Curiously, it is five times more likely to appear in boys than in girls.
Autism cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Unfortunately, that treatment is lifelong and can be very costly. In 2012, it was estimated that living with autism will cost an individual an average of $3.9 million throughout his or her lifetime.
Most symptoms of autism can be noticed in children before the age of three. Some of the signs of autism include a lack of babbling and pointing during the first year of life, being unresponsive to one’s own name, a habit of obsessively stacking or lining up toys and poor social skills. Treatment often involves early intervention, antipsychotic drugs and low student/teacher ratios in school.
Living with autism is a difficult lifelong struggle, but it is not impossible. Those on the lower end of the autism spectrum can life a relatively normal life with the proper treatment. Meanwhile, new studies of the condition are being performed all the time. It is unlikely that this will lead to a cure, but they may allow even low-functioning individuals to life a happy life.
Source: Autism 101: What We Know Today