January 13, 2012
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Autism rates have increased twentyfold in a generation. Author Robert MacNeil states that “Autism now affects more American children than childhood cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.”
These are truly sobering statistics given the challenges autism presents. For those not familiar with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it is a complex neurodevelopment syndrome, which can include social impairments, difficulty communicating, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior. According to the National Institute of Health, ASD occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
As ASD rates have risen, so has the research to understand and address this disorder. While there is no cure, a customized treatment plan, including therapies and behavioral interventions, can be developed to address and improve a child’s specific symptoms. Family-centered therapy may be helpful and in some cases, medication can improve Autism-related symptoms.