March 30, 2012

One in Eighty-Eight: It's More Common Than You Think

The newest reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are saying that 1 in 88 children have Autism and that boys are 5 times more as likely to have it. The study suggests that among boys, the rate of autism spectrum disorders is 1 in 54, almost five times that of girls, in whom the rate is 1 in 252.

So does this mean Autism occurring more frequently? I think not - I believe the new statistics are due to wider screening and better diagnosis guidelines.

I wanted to share a few of the more interesting points highlighted...
  • Parents who have a child with an ASD have a 2%–18% chance of having a second child who is also affected.
  • ASDs tend to occur more often in people who have certain genetic or chromosomal conditions. About 10% of children with autism are also identified as having Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and other genetic and chromosomal disorders.
  • The majority (62%) of children the ADDM Network identified as having ASDs did not have intellectual disability (intelligence quotient <=70).
  • A small percentage of children who are born prematurely or with low birth weight are at greater risk for having ASDs. 
  • ASD commonly co-occurs with other developmental, psychiatric, neurologic, chromosomal, and genetic diagnoses. The co-occurrence of one or more non-ASD developmental diagnoses is 83%. The co-occurrence of one or more psychiatric diagnoses is 10%. 
Thor doesn't have any other known genetic issues, but he was diagnosed with a separate anxiety disorder and sensory processing disorder. I was told that he could show signs of ADD/ADHD as he got older and should be prepared to treat it accordingly. I would say we fit the 83% of co-occuring non-ASD diagnoses.

Too often, I think people make the assumption that Autism - or any "disability" for that matter - automatically means that person has a lower IQ. It's just not true. Thor is a highly intelligent boy - how else could he manage to figure out how to escape outside even though we have an electronic (auto-locking) deadbolt on the door?

Thor is a loving, smart, funny little boy. He also happens to stim, have meltdowns he can't control, be highly sensitive to lights & sounds, self-injure under stress, suffer from severe anxiety, speak in scripts and echolalic speech patterns, and tends to wander away (making me panic!).

April 2, 2012 is World Autism Awareness Day. I want you to take a moment and remember those 1 in 88 children affected by this disorder...if you don't know someone with Autism yet, chances are you will soon. I hope you show them (and their families) compassion, understanding, and most of all - respect.

"Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)? Those may be things that I see first when I meet you, but they are not necessarily what you are all about".  - Ellen Notbohm


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