What is Autism?
Autism is one of a group of diagnoses identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V, American Psychiatric Manual of Mental Disorders, 2013). These disorders included autistic disorder, Rett’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger’s disorder and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD.NOS). With the new DSM-V, all of these subtypes have been merged into what will now be called, Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disorders that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. The word “spectrum” is important in understanding Autism because it refers to the wide range of behavioral signs, symptoms, and degrees of severity that affect individuals. Each individual on the spectrum is an individual, and their needs are unique and specific to the diagnosis.
- Autistic Disorder or classic Autism
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
- Asperger Syndrome
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD/NOS)
There are other disabilities and disorders that also have a high incidence of Autism. Fragile X is a genetic disorder that sometimes is the cause of the Autism Diagnosis.
What is the prevalence of Autism?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a new study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds) in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a surveillance summary report, “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010.” Autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than girls – with 1 in 42 boys identified. To view the full report, click here.
As your child grows and develops, there are many developmental milestones that occur. If you suspect your child has Autism there are several red flags to look for; speak to your physician about screening for Autism , learn the signs and act early.
- Video information about child development milestones are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Audio clips providing information on Autism are available through the American Academy of Pediatrics.
There are Best Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorders in Vermont.
Where can you go if you have concerns about your young child?
- A visit to the child’s physician and a possible referral to the Child Development Clinic at the Children with Special Health Needs (VT Department of Health)
- Vermont’s Parent Child Centers. They serve as clearinghouses for general information about child and family issues.
- Children’s Integrated Services (CIS). They provide services for children under the age of 6. If you are the parent of a child age 6 or younger, and you have questions or concerns about a suspected developmental delay or condition, you can contact the CIS coordinator in your region.
- Under Child Find in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, each school district is responsible to evaluate children ages 3 through 21 that are suspected of having a disability. Contact your local school for the name and number of the Special Education Coordinator if you suspect your child has Autism.
There are many resources and websites to visit that are available to help families navigate a new diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Fact sheets on Autism Spectrum Disorders are available in English and for other languages, click here .
The development of this website was fully funded by a grant to the Vermont Department of Health from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.