An Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be defined as a lifelong developmental disability that impacts an individual’s ability to communicate, interpret language, and interact with others. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that as many as 1 in every 54 children in the United States have autism. Autism is seen in all racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds, but prevalence rates suggest it is more common in boys.
The first signs of ASD are typically present before the age of three and last throughout the lifespan. As the name indicates, there is a significant and complex range of symptoms that can present in any combination and range in severity with an autism diagnosis. No two individuals with autism are the same. While there is a range of possible symptoms, there are primary characteristics that are common among individuals with autism, specifically related to social, emotional and language development. Challenges can include but are not limited to, impairment in social communication and interaction, and the presence of restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior. Due to differences in the brain, people with autism often have different ways of processing, interpreting and reacting to information, stimuli, and/or people. For more information on the specific characteristics associated with autism spectrum disorders, visit the CDC’s list of “Signs and Symptoms”. Additionally, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has a list of “Red Flags” to give caregivers information about what to look for in an individual’s development, which can be found here.
For additional facts & statistics about autism, click here, or visit the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE).
For more detailed information on autism during different developmental stages, click the categories below: