Autism Facts: 40 Facts You Should Know

June 1, 2022

Autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is characterized by challenges in social skills, communication skills, repetitive behaviors, nonverbal communication, and speech. Research shows that autism affects 1 out of every 44 children in the United States alone, and there are multiple subtypes characterized by different environmental and genetic factors. Because it is a spectrum disorder, each child with autism has distinct strengths and challenges with behaviors, learning, and problem-solving that can range from low to high needs.

As a result, some children may live comfortable, independent lives without assistance while others may require significant support daily. Those that do live independent lives may still experience communication and social challenges.

Facts about autism

Discoveries and advancements in both research and technology have increased the ability for children on the spectrum to achieve their full potential. Here are some important facts to help understand what autism is and what it means for those who live with it.

In General

  1. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impacts every 1 in 44 children. Boys are five times more likely to get diagnosed with it than girls.
  2. Autism is among the fastest-growing disorders in the United States.
  3. The term comes from the Greek word autós or self. Autism, in general, means being alone.
  4. Autism affects all nationalities, creeds, religions, races, and sexes. It does not impact or differentiate any single group, though it is 4x more common in boys than girls.
  5. Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability with symptoms that generally appear before the age of 3.
  6. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder present symptoms in different ways. Social and communication delays and repetitive and restricted patterns of behavior are general symptom categories of autism.
  7. Autism can be genetic.
  8. Children with autism may suffer from developmental regression, or a loss of skills previously obtained.
  9. Autism is not a degenerative disorder, and individuals can continuously improve with specialized support and services.
  10. Being nonverbal at a younger age does not mean children with autism will never speak.
  11. If an identical twin has an autism spectrum disorder, there is a 60-96% chance that the other twin will also have autism.
  12. Co-morbid medical conditions like asthma, allergies, epilepsy, feeding disorders, digestive disorders, cognitive impairments, etc., are all common in children with autism.
  13. Up to one-third of affected children may also develop seizure disorders. The seizure rates in children with autism are ten times higher than in neurotypical children.
  14. Roughly 10% of children with autism have other neurological, genetic, and/or metabolic disorders.
  15. Hyperlexia, or the ability to read above one’s age level, can be present in those with autism.
  16. Children with autism may be creative and find passions for music, dance, art, theater, etc.
  17. Researchers hypothesize that autism symptom presentation in males and females may differ, leading to the latter not getting diagnosed promptly. This may be the result of females being prone to hide their difficulties due to social norm expectations.
  18. Females with autism have been an understudied group within research.

Causes

  1. There is no specific cause of autism.
  2. Genetics are a determining factor involved in most cases of autism spectrum disorder.
  3. Children who have siblings with autism are at a higher risk of receiving the same diagnosis.
  4. Extensive studies have found no links between autism and childhood vaccinations.
  5. The behaviors parents engage in do not cause autism spectrum disorder in children, whether before, during, or after pregnancy. 

Diagnosis

  1. There is no lab test to detect autism spectrum disorder medically. 
  2. Experts use developmental history and the observations of behaviors to make a diagnosis.
  3. Early diagnosis helps significantly improve the lives of children with autism, especially if the child is under the age of two as the brain is rapidly developing and it is easier to make necessary changes.
  4. Experts can detect autism spectrum disorder as early as eighteen months and can make a reliable diagnosis between 18-24 months of age.
  5. Some individuals are not diagnosed with autism until their adulthood years.

Support and Intervention

  1. There is no one size fits all intervention for all individuals with autism. Each child’s support team may include one or multiple therapies.
  2. Children with autism should receive therapies as soon as possible for best possible outcomes, though it is never too late to seek support. 
  3. Various therapies like ABA therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and social skills training are available for children with autism.
  4. The most popular and researched behavioral intervention for autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.
  5. Psychological interventions such as skill training programs and behavioral therapies are evidence-based, and can reduce the challenges in social and communication behavior.
  6. Many children with autism benefit from other interventions like occupational therapy and speech therapy.
  7. Therapies have the greatest opportunities for success with early intervention and intensive care plans.
  8. Early intervention therapies are designed to boost learning, communication, social skills, and stimulate brain development.
  9. A child’s development is monitored on an ongoing basis throughout the therapy processes.
  10. Care plans are personalized based on the learning styles and other individual requirements of children with autism, which helps to yield the best results.
  11. Regular dental and medical programs must be a part of a child’s therapy plan, as s/he may get sick or injured like any other child.

Conclusion

Children with autism continue to learn and work through challenges throughout their life. However, most will continue to require some support at each stage along their life journey. Planning for the child’s future opportunities such as employment, education, lifestyle, independence, and support services can ensure a smooth process. While there is no cure available for autism, we can depend on therapies including early intervention services to overcome challenges and improve quality of life.

Songbird Therapy is a deeply passionate team of experts, providing unique care plans tailored for each child. We deliver world-class therapy to children in their own homes, where they feel most at ease.

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