Frequently Asked Questions
What is autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences.
How common is autism?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
What causes autism?
We know that there’s no one cause of autism. Research suggests that autism often develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental, influences. These influences appear to increase the risk that a child will develop autism. However, it’s important to keep in mind that increased risk is not the same as cause. For example, some gene changes associated with autism can also be found in people who don’t have the disorder. Similarly, not everyone exposed to an environmental risk factor for autism will develop the disorder. In fact, most will not.
What are the symptoms of autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.
A person with ASD might:
- Not respond to their name
- Not point at objects or things of interest
- Not play “pretend” games
- Avoid eye contact
What is Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger syndrome is one of several previously separate subtypes of autism that were folded into the single diagnosis autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with the publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual in 2013.
What should I do if I suspect my child may have autism?
Don’t wait. Talk to your doctor immediately. You may also contact us for early screening.
What if I suspect I have autism?
Many persons with Asperger syndrome or other high-functioning forms of autism never received a diagnosis as a child. They may be diagnosed as adults when seeking help for related problems at work or in their social lives. Consider asking your physician for a referral to an appropriate specialist. Professionals qualified to make an adult autism diagnosis include licensed clinical psychologists, neurologists and psychiatrists.
What does it mean to be “On the Spectrum”?
Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those with autism have exceptional abilities in visual, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have intellectual disability (IQ less than 70), and many have normal to above average intelligence. Because the effects of autism can vary greatly from one individual to another, individuals are considered to be “on the spectrum” depending on the degree to which they are affected by the disorder.
How do I deal with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis?
For adults, an autism diagnosis may bring relief in terms of an explanation for their lifelong struggles. For parents, the first months after learning that their child has a developmental disorder can be emotional, confusing and challenging. This is one of the reasons our center was founded, we are here to help families navigate the often-tumultuous first days after a child’s diagnosis.
How do I get my child the help he or she needs?
In addition to the Early Intervention Services mentioned above, it’s important to make sure your child has a knowledgeable and reputable healthcare team. This means finding doctors, therapists, psychologists and teachers who understand and have experience with autism and can respond to his shifting needs appropriately.
Will my child be able to attend school?
Absolutely. In fact, it’s a child’s right: According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990, your child deserves access to a “free and appropriate” education funded by the government, whether it be in a mainstream or special education classroom.
Are vaccinies to blame?
Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.
Can I or my child participate in research to help discover better treatments?
Many opportunities are available for families to participate in autism research. You can join a clinical trial, enroll in a research study, contribute to our rich genetic database or participate online by adding your family information to a research database.