More children than ever before – one in 88 in the United States – are identified as autistic, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are higher for boys, with 1 in 54 affected. Diagnosed cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have increased 23 percent since 2009. A recent government health survey indicates one in 50 school-age kids might be affected by ASD. In short, autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. The risk factors for autism and its underlying causes are a significant research focus for the CDC.
“An autism spectrum diagnosis has a huge impact both emotionally and financially on families,” says Kimberly Dick, director of field development for Autism Speaks in Georgia. She has a 7-year-old son on the autism spectrum, so “I know how important early diagnosis is and how critical it is to find support and resources.”
Our roundup offers just a sampling of recent news relating to autism – and support resources for parents.
Six things researchers know about autism that they didn’t know a year ago:
Quality early intervention for autism not only improves behaviors, it can improve brain function.
Being nonverbal at age 4 does not mean children with autism will never speak. Most will use words, and nearly half will speak fluently.
Though autism tends to be lifelong, some children make so much progress through early intervention that they no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism.
Many younger siblings of autistic children need early intervention, though they may have developmental delays that fall short of an autism diagnosis.
It’s common for children with autism to wander or bolt; it is not a result of careless parenting.
Prenatal folic acid, taken in the weeks before and after a woman becomes pregnant, may reduce the risk of autism.
by Julie Bookman and Amanda Miller Allen
Source: Autism Speaks. Find more information at autismspeaks.org/node/220456