Thursday, March 31, 2011
April is Autism Awareness Month
Throughout the month of April I will also be featuring posts about Autistic Spectrum Disorders, some of them personal, and giving you links for more info. A lot of people are unfamiliar with the wide range of disorders on the spectrum and the impact they have on family dynamics, and the life's and goals of those it effects. Hopefully these series of posts can bring to light these wonderful children, and adults, and all the wonderful, positive ways they contribute to our society.
Please consider joining me in the Light it Up Blue campaign for Autism Speaks. All you have to do is wear something blue, shine a blue light, or even fly something big and blue over your house, on April 1st and 2nd.
Please share a link to my blog where you find it appropriate, on Facebook, Twitter or whatever, and help spread awareness.
What is Autism?
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). The other pervasive developmental disorders are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not
Otherwise Specified), Asperger's Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
How common is Autism?
Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism. Government statistics suggest the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually. There is not established explanation for this increase, although improved diagnosis and environmental influences are two reasons often considered. Studies suggest boys are more likely than girls to develop autism and receive the diagnosis three to four times more frequently. Current estimates are that in the United States alone, one out of 70 boys is diagnosed with autism.
What causes Autism?
The simple answer is we don't know. The vast majority of cases of autism are idiopathic, which means the cause is unknown.
The more complex answer is that just as there are different levels of severity and combinations of symptoms in autism, there are probably multiple causes. The best scientific evidence available to us today points toward a potential for various combinations of factors causing autism – multiple genetic components that may cause autism on their own or possibly when combined with exposure to as yet undetermined environmental factors. Timing of exposure during the child's development (before, during or after birth) may also play a role in the development or final presentation of the disorder.
A small number of cases can be linked to genetic disorders such as Fragile X, Tuberous Sclerosis, and Angelman's Syndrome, as well as exposure to environmental agents such as infectious ones (maternal rubella or cytomegalovirus) or chemical ones (thalidomide or valproate) during pregnancy
Taken from http://www.autismspeaks.org/