Autism is often referred to as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) - because people with autism represent a broad group of people with varying degrees of disability. People on the autism spectrum have problems in three areas: social interaction, communicating with others, and behavioral challenges.
Each person with autism is different. People with autism range from those with "classic" or "Kanner's" autism who have very little social or communication skills along with severe behavioral problems, to those with Aspergers syndrome who have difficulty socializing with others, but can hold jobs and maintain an independent life.
In the last 10 years autism has become the most commonly diagnosed childhood developmental disorder. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention in 2009, autism spectrum disorders now affect 1 in every 110 children in the United States. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and other government agencies indicate that autism diagnoses are increasing at the rate of 10 to 17 percent per year.
Autism can affect anyone, and is not based on ethnic, racial or social backgrounds. The numbers of people diagnosed with autism is the same all around the world. Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.
Because autism affects a person's development in several different areas (social, communication, behavior) it's important to have several interventions to address these challenges, this is often called a mosaic approach. So it is not uncommon for a child with autism to receive behavioral therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy or any other combination of therapies at the same time.
Early Signs of Autism
Communication Difficulties and Autism
Common Behaviors Associated with the Autism Spectrum
My child was just diagnosed with autism, what do I do?