If your child has a developmental disability, such as an autism spectrum disorder, it’s very unlikely that anything you did, or any specific event, caused his or her condition. Autism is a complex and not very well understood condition.
Researchers are working on finding answers, but the questions themselves still aren’t clear. As a result, the research is fragmented, and many theories are in the testing stage. Researchers are rapidly gathering data, but in the meantime, they disagree about how to interpret it. For example, researchers may observe malfunctions in different processes in the body of an autistic individual, but they can’t agree on whether a particular problem is a symptom or a cause of autism. So, debates are ongoing in the medical community about what causes autism and how to treat it. Here are the facts that all professionals and caregivers can agree on:
ü Developmental disabilities such as autism are brain-based, neurological conditions that have more to do with biology than with psychology.
ü Autism is the most common member of a family called autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), also known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs).
ü Autism is usually diagnosed by the time a child is 3 years old.
ü Autism is found in every country, every ethnic group, and every socioeconomic class.
ü Autism affects as many as one and a half million people in the United States alone, with 24,000 children being diagnosed every year. This figure is comparable to other Western countries.
ü Autism is diagnosed four times as often in boys than in girls.
ü One in 166 children are being diagnosed with autism in the United States. That figure has skyrocketed in the last 30 years.
ü Children who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder need early intervention as soon as possible.