Autism is a developmental disorder that impacts behavior, communication, and social skills. Children with autism exhibit repetitive and prohibitive behavior such as repeating words or expressions, sensory sensitivities, and increased reactions to shifts in routine. The symptoms first begin to appear within the first two years of childhood.
In 2008, autism rates in the United States were estimated to be 1 in 125 children. Ten years later in April 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 1 in 59 children in the U.S. was diagnosed with autism. Today, that number has gone up to 1 in 40 children, almost three times the amount from ten years ago. There are three categories of risk factors that contribute to autism: genetic, environmental, differences in brain biology. Studies showed that a combination of these factors could result in autism. However, potential combinations of risk factors manifest differently for every child. Among the many risk factors are a family history of autism, genetic mutation, advanced parents’ age, and preterm birth.
The present society is becoming more aware of autism, which helps to improve awareness of possible symptoms. Moreover, an emphasis has been placed on increased screening for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as early intervention improves results. Diagnostic standards have advanced over the years to include more children under the ASD diagnosis. These factors combined with additional unknown factors all contributed to the increase in reported autism prevalence. In sum, autism is a lifelong disorder, but families and individuals can better cope now with improved and promising treatment options.