April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day, the kickoff to Autism Awareness Month. Autism spectrum disorders are developmental disabilities that often manifest in social difficulty, communication challenges and repetitive behaviors.
Around the world today, people will be “lighting it up blue” to raise awareness and show solidarity around this disorder that affects millions of families globally.
In keeping with that awareness, KnowMore wanted to share 5 facts about autism:
Autism affects 1 in 68 children in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. This is a 30 percent increase from 2012, says the CDC. While it’s still unclear as to what causes autism, many researchers believe a genetic predisposition is the key factor. A woman’s age at conception, exposure to pollutants and certain medications during pregnancy may also be linked with autism.
Boys are four to five times more likely to develop autism, with 1 in 42 affected, says the CDC. The rate for girls is 1 in 189. Genetic differences between boys and girls may account for the higher number of boys affected.
Early intervention is vital to improving the symptoms of autism. In one encouraging study, children as young as 2 with autistic characteristics who were exposed to intense, focused social interventions—such as reward systems for mimicking teacher behaviors—had improved language and cognitive skills and were better at exhibiting emotions and making eye contact at the end of six months. The improvement was still evident six months after the activities ended.