You’re probably hearing even more about autism lately than ever before, especially since it’s being called an epidemic. Yikes! So many people are talking about autism and how its rate is increasing–which is pretty scary if you don’t know anything about autism to begin with.
What is autism? Autism is a brain development disorder that was originally estimated to affect one in every 110 kids in the U.S. every year, but new reports suggest that the actual figures may be close to one in every 88. It’s unclear whether this is because more kids are being affected by the disorder or if there’s just been improvements in testing for autism, which would lead to more correct diagnoses.
One common misconception about autism is that autistic children and adults are unintelligent. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as most autistic people have IQs of 85 or above–and many are extremely skilled in math, science, and music.
The increase in autism awareness may be due to celebs gaining attention to the cause. Jenny McCarthy is an outspoken advocate for autism awareness, and other stars ranging from Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino to Rocky Balboa himself, Sylvester Stallone, have autistic children.
As of now, no one knows what causes autism. (Many suspected vaccines to be the culprit for a while, but that’s since been pretty much ruled out.) For a while, autism diagnoses were only given to those with severe impediments, including speechlessness, repetitive behaviors and social impairments, but since then, the autism spectrum has expanded and includes less severe versions of the disorder, like Asperger’s syndrome. This may be another cause for the growth in autism diagnoses: the number of people who are autistic might have not necessarily changed, it may just be that more people are aware of it now. Sites like The Autism Site also make it easy to donate (for free!) to autism awareness.
Do you know anyone on the autism spectrum? Have you ever had to help care for an autistic person? Tell us about it in the comments!