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The Parker Autism Foundation


Autism 411

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts;
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities;
  • Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (typically recognized in the first two years of life); and,
  • Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment or disability that children with ASD can have. Some children are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled.

NOTE: The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) no longer includes Asperger’s syndrome; the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome are included within the broader category of ASD.

Did you know that...

  • More children have Autism than Diabetes, Cancer and AIDs... COMBINED!

  • Every 20 minutes, a child is diagnosed with autism, a life long neurological disorder that impairs a child's communication, behavior, learning and social skills.

  • A diagnosis of autism affects the entire family.

  • Autism is no longer a "rare disorder". Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder, and four out of five afflicted are boys. In the USA, the rate in 1995 was 1 in 10,000 children diagnosed with autism. The rate in 2005 had skyrocketed to almost 1 in 150. In 2012 it was 1 in 88 and by 2014 it jumped to 1 in 68, although experts theorize that much of the rate increase in recent years is due to the difference in how they survey parents plus better and earlier diagnosis (ages 2-4). Regardless of how the numbers are 2015 the CDC estimated the rate of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) at a shocking 2.2% of the total childhood population!

  • Treatment is Expensive! In many cases, insurance does not pay, even in states that have passed laws requiring health insurance to cover autism, he says. When poorer parents are told their child has autism, they realize that to get services they must get on a waiting list or get Medicaid. In many states, Medicaid doesn't cover autism therapy for young children during the most critical developmental period, which is essential to a better outcome. Families can spend up to $100,000 per year for a child with autism. Most insurance companies don’t cover the cost of early intervention or specialized programs. Children with autism often require 30 to 40 hours of intensive one on one therapy, few families can afford this level of care. The economic cost for any family is often overwhelming.

We ALL are different AND special.