Autism Awareness on the Rise

Why autism diagnoses are on the rise, what to look out for and a simple way you can help.

There are a lot of medical mysteries in the world.  Despite advances in science and research, we’re still missing a lot of answers and one of the biggest mysteries surrounds autism. 

Part of the problem is doctors don’t know the underlying cause of the disorder.  Adding to the confusion are the varying degrees to how a child can be affected by autism.  Almost no two cases of autism are alike.  A child can present social and communication problems, but may also have gastrointestinal issues, sleep problems, and other medical problems.

 But one thing is certain: the number of children with autism is growing.  Part of the rising numbers may be due to better recognition and diagnosis.  Statistics show autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually. It’s estimated one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, with a large percentage of those children being boys.  One out of 70 boys is diagnosed with autism in the United States alone.

 The term “autism” is used to describe a group of developmental brain disorders.  There are different levels of severity and combinations of symptoms.  Because of the variance, researchers believe there may be more than one cause. 

It’s possible multiple genetic components alone are to blame or a combination of genetics with some sort of environmental factor.  There may also be a link between the functions and regulations of the immune system, both in the body and the brain.  But science hasn’t come up with a definitive answer.

 Screening for autism starts at 16 months, although research shows children may exhibit symptoms as early as 1 year old.  For parents and other caregivers, it’s important to be aware of a child’s developmental milestones and at what age he or she should reach them.

 According to First Signs Inc.  there are some “red flags” that parents and caregivers should know.  These include:

·      no big smiles or other joyful expressions by 6 months or thereafter

·      no back and forth sharing of sounds or other facial expressions by 9 months or thereafter

·      no babbling by 12 months

·      no back and forth gestures (waving, pointing, reaching) by 12 months

·      no words by 16 months

·      no two-word meaningful phrases by 24 months

·      any loss of speech or social skills at any age.


If your child exhibits these symptoms, you should contact a pediatrician for an evaluation.

 Autism awareness is a growing movement, in part because of the organization Autism Speak.

The nonprofit is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorder and funding research in the cause, prevention, and treatment for autism. 

One way that you can help is taking part in the walk for Autism Speaks.  The event helps fund autism research.  This year’s event will take place on Oct. 22 on the national mall. 

The 2.5-mile walk starts at 10 a.m.  For more information on registering, starting a team, or joining a team, click here.  There are nearby walks in Richmond, Virginia and Baltimore. 

Trish Reis August 08, 2011 at 11:51 AM
An environmental factor could be the chemicals/toxins in your common household cleaners. Shaklee's all-natural cleaners are chemical and toxin free. And they not only work great but will also save you lots of money! Contact me for more information about these environmentally friendly cleaning products. Trish Reis 703-946-6047, gogreengetfit@verizon.net.
Rachel August 08, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Wow, you will sell in any comment thread, won't you? I find it inappropriate.
Rachel August 08, 2011 at 02:41 PM
It is amazing the level of awareness in the past nine years. Jimmy's developmental delays were dismissed as a result of repeated ear infections at a year to eighteen months. He didn't get a diagnosis until 4. Now diagnosis under the age of two is common. It is important to note that insurance companies are now required to provide limited therapeutic coverage for autistic kids from the ages of 2 to 6, so early identification and diagnosis is crucial.
Trish Reis August 08, 2011 at 05:28 PM
Rachel, my intent was, and always will be, to try to help others. I posted this comment because a friend of mine found that by switching out the common household cleaners in her home to Shaklee's all-natural cleaning products actually helped her autistic child a bit. They in no way are going to cure autism, nothing can do that. Many folks are not aware of the affect the chemicals have on children, whether they have autism or not. Just trying to make folks aware and help if I can.
Christopher Delaz August 08, 2011 at 06:10 PM
<1> I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, TagCent.com


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