Wednesday, April 2nd is World Autism Day. Today, 1 in 150 children will be diagnosed with autism. Some statistics indicate that 1 in 96 boys with be diagnosed with some form of autism. If you don't know someone that is affected by autism, you probably will in the near future.
Autism is a spectrum disease, with a wide range of disorders and severities. There is no typical child with autism. Autism comes under the umbrella of pervasive developmental disorders. Besides autism, there is Rhett's Syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, and PDD-NOS (PDD not otherwise specified). For more detailed information about these disorders go to the wikipedia article on autism.
There are many different treatments for autism, which include therapy, special diets, and biomedical treatments. There are many theories on what causes autism, but no one knows for sure why so many children are being affected.
Early intervention is key for children suffering from an autism spectrum disorder. To learn the signs, visit the Autism Speaks web page. Their video glossary is excellent.
To get some more information about real families living with autism, you can visit some of the following blogs:
Wolf Pack Chronicles
If you are concerned that someone you love may be suffering from autism, there are two online assessments you can look at. The first is suitable for toddlers and is called the MCHAT. The directions for scoring it are here. Another screening tool which is suitable for slightly older children, is called the Childbrain PDD assessment.
If you think your child might have autism, or any other developmental delay you should seek intervention as soon as possible. If you child is from 0-3 years of age, contact your state's early intervention program. If your child is older than three, contact your local school district. If you request an evaluation, you MUST, under law, be given one for free.
If you take anything from my post, know that autism isn't just Rainman or the child sitting in the corner rocking back and forth. There is hope and help, and a million special things about about children with autism to celebrate.