Did you know that in 2020, the CDC reported that approximately 1 in 54 children living in the US is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? With numbers that high, it’s highly likely that you know someone who is on the spectrum—whether in your immediate/extended family, a friend or co-worker.
Here are some additional statistics regarding autism spectrum disorder (according to www.autismspeaks.com):
- Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
- Most children were still being diagnosed after age 4, though autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 2.
- 31% of children with ASD have an intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] <70), 25% are in the borderline range (IQ 71–85), and 44% have IQ scores in the average to above average range (i.e., IQ >85).
- Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
- Minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often.
- Early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development and deliver benefits across the lifespan.
While many associate those with autism as being nonverbal, the actual percentage is about 40%. Additional mental/health conditions that may be associated include sleeping disorders, anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder, depression, and gastrointestinal problems.
An ASD diagnosis, particularly for a parent, can be very stressful. Knowing what resources are available is a critical first step. So, during National Autism Awareness Month, how can we help those diagnosed with ASD?
1. Check out www.autismspeaks.com to find resources specific to individual age, and support needs. Here, you’ll find everything from free access to an autism response team including information on:
– Where to get a diagnosis
– Schools and special education
– Advocacy and support
– Adult services – including post-secondary programs and employment
– Inclusion and community activities
2. Talk to a trusted therapist, family member, or friend for emotional support. Knowing that there are people you can rely on is a big piece of the larger puzzle you’re putting together for the person diagnosed.
3. Schedule an appointment with the diagnosed person’s primary physician. She or he will give you a referral so that you can schedule whatever therapies are appropriate for the patient. These may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, further testing, handwriting therapy, and so on.