Friday, February 6, 2009
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder. It affects 1 in 150 children, making it more common than AIDS, pediatric cancer, and diabetes combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups, and is more common in boys than girls. It impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. There are five disorders under the autism spectrum: Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, PDD-NOS(Pervasive Developmental Disorder), and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. These disorders vary by different degrees of impairment in communication and skills and social abilities. Autism can usually be reliably diagnosed by the age of 3. New research shows that diagnosis can even be made as early as 6 months. Parents are a child's best advocate. If you notice unusual behavior, or failure of your child to reach appropriate milestones, there may be cause to have your child evaluated. Pediatricians may dismiss signs of autism, thinking your child is just slow. But if you feel something is wrong ,you are probably right, follow your gut. Early intervention is critical. The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier intervention can begin. Research shows that early intervention in the appropriate educational setting during preschool years, can result in significant improvements in young children. Programs should focus on developing communcation, social, and cognitive skills. There is no single treatment for children with autism, but most respond best to highly structured behavioral programs.