Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness

“Nearly a quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.” April is National Autism Awareness Month. It is a time to promote autism awareness and acceptance. To celebrate, presidential/ congressional declarations are made, online events and activities are available, and in some locations events and activities are planned through affiliates.

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a ‘spectrum condition’ that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.” More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. It is the fastest growing developmental disability. The prevalence in the U. S. is estimated at 1 in 68 births.

At each well child visit, care providers should perform a developmental screening. Some behaviors in infants and toddlers warrant further evaluation by a multidisciplinary team. They are listed below.

  • Does not coo or babble by 12 months
  • Does not point or wave by 12 months
  • Does not say single words by 16 months
  • Does not say two-word phrases by 24 months
  • Has a loss of language or social skill at any age

Signs to look for in slightly older children include:

  • Fixation on parts of objects
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (hand-flapping)
  • Lack of spontaneous play
  • Delay or lack of spoken language
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in relationships with peers

Children do not “outgrow” autism, but autism is treatable. There is no single cause of autism, and no single treatment. With increased awareness about the syndrome early diagnosis and intervention can happen, which leads to “significantly improved outcomes.”

Information for this article came from two helpful websites: and