What is Autism?

What Is Autism?

Autism is a collection of neurological disorders that affect the way a child’s brain develops.

Autism affects a person’s ability to communicate, to reason, and to interact with others.

Autism is a lifelong disability.

What Causes Autism?

Researchers suspect that autism is caused by a combination of biological and environmental variables, although there is no consensus regarding the exact cause.

What are the signs of autism?
Because autism is a spectrum disorder, the symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in various ways, from mild to severe. Although autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors, individuals can exhibit any combination of the behaviors in varying degrees. People with autism process and respond to information in unique ways. The following are some common characteristics exhibited by people who have autism.

 Resistant to change

 Difficulty in expressing needs

 Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language

 Emotional displays (laughing, crying) for reasons not apparent to others

 Preferring to be alone

 Tantrums

 Aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior

 Difficulty interacting with others

 Aversion to physical contact

 Making little or no eye contact

 Unresponsive to normal teaching methods

 Sustained odd play

 Spinning objects

 Inappropriate attachment to objects

 Over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain

 No fear of danger

 Obvious physical over-activity or extreme under-activity

 Uneven gross/fine motor skills

 Unresponsive to verbal cues

How Is Autism Diagnosed?

There are no medical tests for diagnosing autism. An accurate diagnosis must be based on observations of the individual’s communication, behavior and developmental levels.

When Should Autism Be Diagnosed?

The characteristics of autism may or may not be apparent in infancy, but usually become evident during early childhood (24 months to 6 years).

How Is Autism Treated?

While there is no cure for autism, research shows that early intervention results in positive outcomes for children with autism.

Because autism is a spectrum disorder, no one treatment method alone is effective. A multidisciplinary approach is often the best way to achieve results.

People with autism tend to respond to a highly-structured, specialized education and/or psychotherapy programs specifically tailored to their needs.

Other helpful treatment methods include medicine, diet, vitamins, occupational therapy, sensory therapy, music therapy, speech therapy and parent guidance.

Fraser’s extensive services provide diagnosis, treatment and support for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and the families who care for them. Fraser takes a multidisciplinary approach and partners with each family to determine which services are the best fit. Our programs are nationally recognized for their high quality and innovation and our staff is skilled and caring.

How Common Is Autism?

Over the past decade, the incidence of autism has increased at an alarming rate, from 1-in-10,000 births to about 1-in-250 births.

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability affecting children today. It is more common than juvenile diabetes, Down syndrome, and childhood cancer.

Based on government statistics, autism is growing at a rate of 10 to 17 percent per year.

The overall incidence of autism is consistent throughout the world. Autism knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries, but is four times more prevalent in boys than girls.

In the past 10 years, the number of children with autism in Minnesota has multiplied by 15 times.

It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans (children and adults) have autism today, and another 15 million Americans (family and friends, health care professionals, caregivers and educators) are directly affected by autism.

Where Can My Family Receive Services Related To Autism?

Fraser’s extensive services provide diagnosis, treatment and support for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and the families who care for them. Visit www.fraser.org or call 612-331-9413