Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.
Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.
In March 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 68 births in the United States – nearly twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125 – and almost 1 in 54 boys. The spotlight shining on autism as a result has opened opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve families facing a lifetime of supports for their children.
In June 2014, researchers estimated the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism is as great as $2.4 million. The Autism Society estimates that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism. (This figure includes research, insurance costs and non-covered expenses, Medicaid waivers for autism, educational spending, housing, transportation, employment, related therapeutic services and caregiver costs.)
Know the signs: Early identification can change lives
Autism is treatable. Children do not "outgrow" autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. For more information on developmental milestones, visit the CDC's "Know the Signs. Act Early" site.
Here are some signs to look for in the children in your life:
Description: At Autism Speaks, their goal is to change the future for all who struggle with an autism spectrum disorder. They are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a possible cure for autism.
Talk About Curing Autism
Description: Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating, empowering and supporting families affected by autism. For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments. TACA helps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them, allowing them to share stories and information to help improve the quality of life for people with autism.
Vitamin D Council
Description: The Vitamin D Council provides the latest Vitamin D news and research. Dr. John Cannell of the Council outlines what the risk factors are for autism and how to prevent them.
Description: Generation Rescue is dedicated to recovery for children with autism spectrum disorders by providing guidance and support for medical treatment to directly improve the child's quality of life for all families in need.
The Autism Research Institute
Description: The Autism Research Institute's mission is to meet the needs of the global autism community through research, networking, education, and support for families and people of all ages on the autism spectrum.
The Autism Society of America
Description: The Autism Society, the nation's leading grassroots autism organization, exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. They do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy.
US Autism & Asperger Association
Description: US Autism & Asperger Association is a non-profit organization which has a large network of world-renowned professionals with expertise in Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and other related disorders. USAAA hosts a world conference in the United States each year, establishes standards for Autism and Asperger Syndrome training, and aligns with local community resources to offer support for the entire Autism and Asperger communities.
Parents’ Stories – From Autism Diagnosis to Treatments, Hope and Recovery
Description: Treating Autism aims to provide support and information to persons affected by ASD, their family members and professionals.
The National Autism Association
Description: The mission of the National Autism Association is to respond to the most urgent needs of the autism community, providing real help and hope so that all affected can reach their full potential.
Lily Grace Foundation
Description: Providing children and families diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders with education, resources, research, and scholarships for medical and integrative therapies.
Some forums require you to sign in to Yahoo or Facebook to locate forum names.
Forum/Blog Name: CSB-Autism-Rx
Description: This Yahoo Group provides a dynamic forum to discuss causation models for the worldwide epidemic of autism, ADD and ADHD. Discussions focus on the treatment protocols described in Jaquelyn McCandless’ book, “Children with Starving Brains: A Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorder," 4th Edition 2009.
Forum/Blog Name: Operation Autism On-Line Blog
Description: Operation Autism is a resource guide for military families and their unique situation. This is an open blog for parents, professionals, educators, advocates and so on. The focus is to provide information and support to families with autism in the military.
Forum/Blog Name: Maria Rickert Hong Blog
Description: Maria practices a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that she looks at how all areas of your life are connected.
Forum/Blog Name: Center for Autism And Related Disorders (CARD)
Description: CARD's mission is to help individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) around the globe reach their maximum potential. Using evidenced-based principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA), CARD creates individualized treatment plans with goals tailored to each individual’s specific needs.
Forum/Blog Name: Valerie’s List
Description: FREE! News and Resources for the Autism Community in Southern California.
Forum/Blog Name: Thinking Mom’s Revolution
Description: A website and blog dedicated to bringing out stories of our children; stories of healing, truth, justice, and HOPE.
Forum/Blog Name: THRiive
Description: A website with a goal of taking YOU from Dealing with a Diagnosis to Delivery of the Optimal Protocol for you and yours to THRiiiVE!!!
Forum/Blog Name: Recovering Kids.com
Description: At our group, you'll find parents ready to offer their experiences when faced with similar situations. Sharing and healing together. Whether your child has autism, allergies, ADHD, apraxia, sensory processing disorder, pandas or mitochondrial disease, there is biomedical information in the group for you.
Forum/Blog Name: Fearless Parents
Description: Fearless Parent™ is the thinking person’s daily dose of unconventional, evidence-based news about health, wellness, green living, and holistic parenting choices.
Forum/Blog Name: Autism Spectrum Disorder, through my eyes Discussion Group
Description: Facebook group. The main aim of the group is for members to post questions or concerns relating to Autism, to reach out for help, or to offer support to others.
Forum/Blog Name: Autism Parents Support and Discussion Group
Description: This Facebook group is a place for you to ask Autism-related questions, have discussions, get answers and feedback, share stories of challenges and achievements and also create and foster new friendships with others who have been walking a similar path on this Autism journey.
Forum/Blog Name: Autism Behavior Problems
Description: This is a Yahoo Group where people can go to specifically talk about problem behaviors they're having with autistic children. This group is for discussion, aid and support in dealing with these behaviors present in the autistic child.
Forum/Blog Name: Denise’s List
Description: This is a Yahoo Group for Autism information of particular interest to the South Florida area. Members exchange information on news, therapies, resources, events, advocacy, on just about anything concerning autism.
Forum/Blog Name: Special Mom Special Kids
Description: This is a Yahoo Group of Moms in Palm Beach county Florida that have a child with special needs. We have formed a group to support and network with one another.
Forum/Blog Name: What is a MAPS Doctor and Why Should I have One?
Description: This is an interview with Dr. David Berger, a MAPS physician – Medical Academia of Pediatric Special Needs – on the importance of a MAPS physician and why parents need to find one for their child.