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Autism efforts shed light on disability

The Herald-Dispatch - 4/21/2017

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant challenges in many areas of a person's life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with ASD do not look any different from those without ASD, but they may communicate, interact, behave and learn in different ways from most other people.

Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and generally last a lifetime. However, early intervention can help children learn many important skills.

That's why it's important to talk with your child's doctor early on about any concerns you may have. There are two main areas for parents and caregivers to observe in relation to ASD - communication and interactions with others and routine and repetitive behaviors. For a list of potential red flags or symptoms, visit:

Diagnosing ASD can be difficult since there is no test available; generally doctors look at a child's behavior and development to make a diagnosis. According to the CDC, ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger, although an experienced professional can usually make a determination by the age of two. While ASD affects children across all demographics, it's about 4.5 times more common among boys than girls.

Other higher-than-normal risk is associated with siblings of those already diagnosed, people with certain other developmental disorders, premature babies and children of older mothers and fathers. The National Institutes of Health estimate that approximately one out of every 68 children in the United States currently have ASD, but there are some studies which show a higher prevalence.

Sources: National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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