Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Spotlight on Autism


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Autism Awareness Month: April 2019

Like many different shades of light, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can appear in each person differently and to a unique degree. During Autism Awareness Month, it is important to remember that autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States and is four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)estimates that 1 in 59 children are now identified with ASD. 

ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors but is a “spectrum” disorder that affects individuals in widely different ways and to varying degrees. Each individual on the autism spectrum is just that – an individual. Their unique characteristics and needs are specific to them alone.

There are some behaviors that are common, such as difficulty making eye contact, reading other people’s facial expressions, understanding nonverbal cues and gestures and interacting with others. Some individuals with ASD may not have language or cognitive delays, but still have impairments in social behavior and communication and display unusual behaviors and interests. People who are on the spectrum range from those who are significantly challenged to those who are gifted.

There is no genetic test for ASD and no known cause. Symptoms often occur early in life, usually before the age of three. If a parent notices their child is not reaching typical milestones in development, they  should gather information and seek guidance, as early intervention can result in considerable improvements for many children. In New York State, services for children with ASD come primarily from the Department of Health (DOH), the State Education Department (SED) and the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

Check out this downloadable poster to learn some interesting facts about ASD.