"On the spectrum" Genius Hour Project

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are general terms for a group of complicated brain disorders. There are different characterized groups for autism such as difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. Autism may cause difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some people with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art. Autism can occur in very early brain development, but the most obvious signs and symptoms of autism become apparent between the ages of 2 and 3 years old.

Autism symptoms/ signs

HOw common is autism?

Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 68 American children have ASD. Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

ASD affects over 3 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Moreover, government autism statistics suggest that widespread rates have increased 10 to 17 percent annually in recent years. There is no established explanation for this continuing increase, although improved diagnosis and environmental influences are two reasons often considered.

What causes autism

The answer to this question not long ago would have been “we have no idea.” Research is now finding the answers. Research now knows that there is no one cause of autism just as there is no one type of autism. Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. A small number of these are sufficient to cause autism by themselves. Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.

"On the spectrum"?

every individual with autism is unique. Many individuals on the spectrum ave exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. The estimate of about 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Many people on the spectrum take pride in their abilities and there distinct outlook on the world. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About one third of people with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means. Autism Speaks’ mission is to improve the lives of all those on the autism spectrum. For some, this means the development and delivery of more effective treatments that can address significant challenges in communication and physical health. For others, it means increasing acceptance, respect and support.

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