Autism is everywhere.  10+ years ago I remember someone saying to me everyone has been touched by cancer in some way.  Now I feel the same can be said of autism.  Most, if not all of us, either know someone with autism or are a parent of a child with autism or have autism him/herself.  The numbers are climbing, awareness is increasing, research is advancing and acceptance is nearing.

Every year the month of April is deemed Autism Awareness Month (learn how we celebrate here).  In celebration of this blogs are buzzing with personal stories to help us understand what it is like to live with autism and national organizations are highlighting facts in an effort to help us all better understand this complicated diagnosis.  Autism (or ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder) is defined as a group of complex brain disorders including varying degrees of difficulty with social interactions, nonverbal and verbal communication and repetitive behaviors.  Below are some staggering, ever changing statistics to highlight the impact of autism and its reach:


1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism


1 in 5 of those children diagnosed will have a sibling who is also diagnosed with autism


1 in 50 school aged children are diagnosed


½ of those school aged children diagnosed have sensory integration issues (want to learn more about sensory integration disorder? click here)


4 to 5 times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with autism


40% of those diagnosed with autism have average to above average intellectual abilities


About 25% of those with autism are nonverbal but can learn to communicate in other ways


Autism can accurately be diagnosed as early at 2 years of age however most are not diagnosed until after 4 years of age


The most obvious signs of Autism emerge between 2 and 3 years of age


Research is proving a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors that influence early brain development are the cause of autism.


Research is suggesting that a woman can reduce her chances of having a child with autism by taking folic acid or eating a diet rich in folic acid before and after conception


Below are listed the “red flags” to look for to know if your child may be at risk for an autism diagnosis taken from the Autism Speaks website (

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by 9 months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age


The Autism Speaks website also states that one of the best things parents and caregivers can do is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching (1-2-3 Just Play With Me can help you get started!).  With this knowledge you will be better equipped to recognize warnings signs and advocate for your child by seeking help from a professional as early as possible.

Autism speaks…it’s time for us all to start listening, learning and accepting!

If you want to learn more or share with others what you know about autism, join us Tuesday, April 9 at 8pm as we tweet chat with Treatment Diaries all about autism. #treatdiarieschat


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