Be aware of Autism

By Kevin Mercado

Opinions Editor

[email protected]

April 28, 2015

What is Autism?

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior,” according to the National Institute of Neurological disorders and Stroke, which also reports that early signs of autism are found when babies are unresponsive to people or only focus on one item.

There are also mild cases of Autism, such as Asperger’s syndrome where the central symptom is trouble in social situations, such as not picking up on body language or the inability to start and maintain conversations with other people.

How many people are diagnosed?

One in 68 U.S. children are diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014. This is a 30 percent increase from two years ago where only one in 88 children were diagnosed, according to a report released by CNN in 2014.

The number of people diagnosed with Autism is steadily increasing and the age by which parents start to see signs of autism and it is being diagnosed is decreasing. The CDC reports that the diagnosis of Autism by age two can be valid and reliable and parents begin to see signs of autism before a child’s first birthday.

“ASD is almost five times more common among boys (one in 42) than among girls (one in 189),” according to the CDC and “on average, children identified with ASD were not diagnosed until after age four, even though children can be diagnosed as early as age two.”

Why is Autism increasing?

The reason for the spike in Autism diagnoses is in part due to the expanded diagnostic criteria for the illness. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has increased the criteria eligibility for Autism. According to Disabilityscoop. com, a research team at the University of Utah matched the diagnosis criteria in the 80s to the criteria in the modern day and found that “most who were deemed to be autism-free at that time would receive the label today.”

“Thus, while it is well known that current DSM-IV-TR criteria increased the identification of high functioning individuals, our results indicate that they also increase identification of ASD among individuals with autism and intellectual impairment,” wrote researchers in the study published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders this month.

Researchers have also linked the increase in Autism to the increase in air pollution. The new Harvard study says that exposure to air pollution amongst pregnant women, more specifically in their third trimester, have an increased chance in birthing a child with Autism as reported by NBC news.

There was also a recent study linking autism to the Mumps-Measles-Rubella (MMR) vaccination. This study has since been disproven.

Autism in Society

People who are diagnosed with Autism are fairly young, most of the time before they enter school. For a long time, Autistic children are in the care of their parents or guardians.

The economic hardships parents have to face to sustain a child are increased with Autism.

The CDC reports that, “It is estimated to cost at least $ 17,000 more per year to care for a child with ASD compared to a child without ASD. Costs include health care, education, ASD-related therapy, family-coordinated services, and caregiver time.

For a child with more severe ASD, costs per year increase to over $ 21,000. Taken together, it is estimated that total societal costs of caring for children with ASD were over $ 9 billion in 2011.”

In this case it is far better to get a child diagnosed sooner rather than later. This way, the child will be able to get the medical attention he or she needs as well as learn how to better function in society while dealing with Autism.

“The earlier a child is diagnosed with autism, the better their chances of overcoming the difficulties that come with the disorder,” according to CNN.

Autism in school

First thing to know is that nearly one in three students report being bullied during the school year, according to the National Center for Educational statistics in 2013.

63 percent of children with Autism had been bullied, according to a survey of 1,200 parents who had a child with Autism conducted by researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University. It was also discovered that these children were three times more likely to be bullied than their siblings who do not have autism.

Other findings included: 61 percent of children with Asperger’s were being bullied and children in public schools were 50 percent more like to be bullied than in private of special education schools.

“One noteworthy finding was children with autism may also become bullies themselves. Twenty percent of surveyed parents said their child with autism had bullied others. Most were “bully-victims,” meaning they had also been bullied at some point, the researchers said.”

Children with Autism are placed in regular classroom settings and their characteristic behavioral traits are not in-line with non-Autistic student, which is indicative of their treatment from other students.

What do we do?

The first thing to realize is that people with Autism clearly need special attention. This means that in public schools, they need a regiment separate from the other students: a regiment where they can learn at their own pace and they are not troubled with constant teasing by their peers.

People must also realize that people with any degree of Autism are still people. Having Autism does not make anyone less of a person and those who tease people with autism probably have an Autistic person in their family and if it’s not okay to tease that family, then it is not okay to tease anyone else’s.

Dr. Paul Law said,“To experience teasing, taunts, ostracism or other forms of spite may make a child who was already struggling to cope become completely unable to function,” in a CBS news article.

People need to increase awareness for those with Autism. It is not easy for them, their parents, or their family.

People with Autism are more importantly people in general and should be treated as such.

The Albany Student Press

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