I do not hold a PhD or an MD, so I am not going to go into too much detail here. For more in-depth information, I suggest you check out the websites of the Autism Society of America and Autism Speaks, both of which are leading organizations for autism awareness, advocacy, and research.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder. A developmental disorder or delay means that a child reaches their developmental milestones late, or misses them altogether. I do not mean that if a child talks or walks a few months later than their peers, that means they have autism. ASD is suspected when there are multiple red flags.
The word spectrum in autism spectrum disorder is used because there are varying levels of “severity.” Some children with ASD are nonverbal and have seemingly little interest in social interaction. Others are very articulate for their age and want to interact with their peers, but struggle with social cues in social situations. It is a very wide spectrum, which researchers are trying hard to understand.
In March 2012, the CDC estimated that the rate of children affected with ASD is around 1 in 88. The rate of occurrence is 5x higher in boys. The importance of embracing these children and adults with differing abilities is fundamental, because they aren’t going anywhere!