The Faison School
1701 Byrd Avenue
Richmond, VA 23230
Phone: 804.612.1947
contact@thefaisonschool.org


About Autism

According to the Autism Society of America:
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.

PDD
Autism is one of five disorders that falls under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by "severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development." The five disorders under PDD are:

  • Autistic Disorder
  • Asperger's Disorder
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
  • Rhett's Disorder
  • PDD-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

Each of these disorders has specific diagnostic criteria which been outlined in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR).

Prevalence of Autism
Autism is the most common of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, affecting an estimated 1 in 110 births (Centers for Disease Control Prevention, 2009). Roughly translated, this means as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form of autism. And, this number is on the rise.

Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and other governmental agencies, autism is growing at a startling rate of 10-17 percent per year.

And, although the overall incidence of autism is consistent around the globe, it is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls.

Signs
As mentioned previously, autism is a spectrum disorder, and although it is defined by a certain set of behaviors, children and adults with autism can exhibit any combination of these behaviors in any degree of severity. Two children, both with the same diagnosis, can act completely different from one another and have varying capabilities.

  • Persons with autism may also exhibit some of the following traits:
    Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
  • Difficulty in expressing needs, using gestures or pointing instead of words
  • Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
  • Laughing (and/or crying) for no apparent reason, showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
  • Preference to being alone; aloof manner
    Tantrums
  • Difficulty in mixing with others
  • Not wanting to cuddle or be cuddled
    Little or no eye contact
  • Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
  • Sustained odd play
  • Spinning objects
  • Obsessive attachment to objects
  • Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
  • No real fears of danger
  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills
  • Non responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf, although hearing tests in normal range.


According to the Autism Society of America:

  • 1 to 1.5 million Americans
  • Fastest-growing developmental disability
  • 10 - 17 % annual growth
  • Growth comparison during the 1990s
  • U.S. population increase: 13%
  • Disabilities increase: 16%
  • Autism increase: 172%
  • $90 billion annual cost
  • 90% of costs are in adult services
  • Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention
  • In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion
  • 2003 Copyright Autism Society of America. All rights reserved.






Based on the autism prevalence rate of 2 to 6 per 1,000 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2001) and 2000 U.S. Census figure of 280 million Americans.

U.S. Department of Education’s Twenty-First Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1999).






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