How Common Are ASDs?
Autism spectrum disorders affect an estimated 1 in 150 children (ADDM, 2006). 1 in 94 boys are affected, many more boys than girls. The reported number of children with ASD has increased dramatically since studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, when rates were reported as 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 500 children. The reason for the increase is unclear. The observed increase of autism cases of cannot be explained by the expansion of criteria used to make the diagnosis, however. (UCMIND Institute, 2002).
What Are the Symptoms of ASD?
No two children with ASD have the exact same symptoms. The number of symptoms and how severe they are can vary greatly. If you are concerned about your child’s development and would like to review “red flags”, see the information provided by the national CDC developmental disabilities campaign “Learn the Signs. Act Early” and the organization “First Signs” here. Remember that not all children who display behaviors below will eventually be diagnosed with an ASD. The following are examples of how a child with ASD may act:
• Doesn’t keep eye contact or makes very little eye contact
• Doesn’t look at objects or events parents are looking at or pointing to
• Doesn’t point to objects or events to get parents to look at them
• Doesn’t bring objects to show to parents just to share his interest
• Doesn’t often have appropriate facial expressions
• Unable to perceive what others might be thinking or feeling by looking at their facial expressions
• Doesn’t say single words by 15 months or two-word phrases by 24 months
• Repeats exactly what others say without understanding its meaning (echolalia)
• Doesn’t respond to name being called, but does respond to other sounds (like a car horn or a cat’s meow)
• Refers to self as “you” and others as “I” (pronominal reversal)
• Often doesn’t seem to want to communicate
• Doesn’t start or can’t continue a conversation
• Doesn’t use toys or other objects to represent people or real life in pretend play
• May have a good rote memory, especially for numbers, songs, TV jingles, or a specific topic
• Loses language milestones, usually between the ages of 15 to 24 months in a few children (regression)
• Rocks, spins, sways, twirls fingers, or flaps hands (stereotypic behavior)
• Likes routines, order, and rituals
• Obsessed with a few activities, doing them repeatedly during the day
• Plays with parts of toys instead of the whole toy (for example, spinning the wheels of a toy truck)
• May be very sensitive or not sensitive at all to smells, sounds, lights, textures and touch