Friday, March 23, 2007

* Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized most notably by difficulty in acquiring normal language, leisure, and social interaction skills.
* Autism is neurological in origin and occurs as a result of abnormal brain function.
* People with autism may also suffer from physical ailments such as difficulty in feeding, sleeping, and integrating sensory input received from the environment.
* Autism is known as a spectrum disorder because there is a range of possible symptoms and severity levels that a person may exhibit.
* Autism is the most common of five distinct disorders that belong within the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).
* The four other Pervasive Developmental Disorders include Asperger's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett's Disorder, and PDD-Not Otherwise Specified.
* Although each of these disorders has a specific diagnostic criteria, the Pervasive Developmental Disorders are similar in that multiple areas of development are greatly impacted.

* The symptoms of autism are often evident by the time a child reaches age three.
* Autism occurs significantly more often in boys than in girls.
* Autism equally affects people living in all areas of the world, regardless of race or socio-economic status
How do I know if my child has autism?
* Autism can only be diagnosed by a medical professional such as a developmental pediatrician, a pediatric neurologist, a pediatric psychiatrist, or a pediatric psychologist
* Conventional medical tests such as drawing blood or scanning the brain cannot be used to diagnose autism
* A diagnosis of autism is made through observing the child and interviewing adults who are familiar with the child

* No one knows for sure what causes autism
* There is no conclusive evidence, but some studies have attempted to link autism to childhood vaccinations
* Intrauterine exposure to harmful substances and infections is also being investigated as a possible cause of autism
* Although no specific genes have been isolated, researchers are investigating the possibility that there are genes which could make a child more susceptible to autism.

* There is no cure for autism
* The disorder will remain for life, but the symptoms of autism can sometimes be greatly improved
* There is no single way to treat autism
* Autism is typically treated with a combination of therapies that is best determined by analyzing the individual's strengths and weaknesses
* Treatment approaches often include sensory integration, occupational, speech, physical, vision and behavioral therapies
* These therapies typically target the elimination of inappropriate behaviors and the addition of appropriate or compensatory behaviors
* Individuals with autism may also demonstrate improvement when medical and physical treatments such as chelation therapy, dietary intervention, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy are applied
* Non-medical approaches to autism could include pet therapy, music therapy, or canine therapy


Autism Society of America
Mayo Clinic

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Dan Marino Foundation

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