The sound of children laughing and playing in the sunshine with their friends as they slide down a slide or hang from monkey bars on a playground is priceless. They have not a care in the world. Unfortunately, for the parents of many children, this beautiful picture is just a dream.
What do you think of when the word "spectrum" is mentioned? A rainbow has a spectrum of many colors just as there are many disorders on the autism spectrum. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as "any group of developmental disorders (as autism and Asperger's syndrome) marked by impairments in the ability to communicate and interact socially and by the presence of repetitive behaviors or restricted interests." The disorders on the autism spectrum are autism, Asperger's syndrome, Rett's syndrome, childhood disingrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
Autism affects 1 in 88 children born today, which is up from 1 in 150 only ten years ago in 2002. Despite the fact that the numbers are increasing and researchers are discovering more about autism, the primary cause or causes of autism are still unknown. The prevalence of autism is not limited to a certain group of people. It occurs across socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups. It's five times more common in boys than girls.
Research has not yet led to a cure, but because of the progress that it has made, there is hope for children with autism. Playing on the playground appropriately with peers does not have to be a dream. With the help of ABA therapy, language development and social skills training, children with autism can learn the skills necessary to live the life they deserve—one that is filled with laughter and love.
www.merriam-webster.com (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
www.sciencenews.org (Science News)
www.sfari.org (Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative)
www.nimh.nih.gov (National Institute of Mental Health)
www.cdc.gov (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
www.autismresearchcentre.com (ARC (Autism Research Centre) University of Cambridge)