Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

The following is an excerpt from a class paper I wrote. Written based on information found at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Autism (more formally known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD) is a complex neuro-developmental disorder characterized, in general, by delays in communication ability, a narrow range of interests, repetitive behaviors, and impediments in cognitive development and social interaction. Delays in communication ability and other key cognitive skill areas often translate into issues in reading social cues and providing proper social responses.

Autism is a series of neurological disorders on a widening spectrum of severity. It is not just one disorder; rather, it is a number of related disorders, grouped together for better diagnosis. The spectrum goes from “high-functioning,” to “low-functioning;” the higher one is on the spectrum, the closer that individual is to so-called “normal” behavior.

Individuals with high-functioning autism, though not affected as severely, deal with mild degrees of cognitive impediment and communication deficits. Individuals with low-functioning autism deal with deficits that are much more severe. The majority of low-functioning cases involve non-verbal individuals, and those who have severely high levels of sensitivity to stimuli.

According to the latest reliable report from the CDC in 2014, ASD affects about one percent of the world’s population, with varying degrees of prevalence by country. Prevalence in the United States is roughly one percent.

In the United States, ASD is the fastest-growing developmental disability/disorder, with an increase in prevalence of one-hundred-nineteen percent from the year 2000 (one in one-hundred- and-fifty) to 2014 (one in sixty-eight, which was a thirty percent increase from the last estimate of one in eighty-eight in 2010).

Autism Spectrum Disorder manifests itself very early in individuals, with an acute onset typically noticed within a few months to a year after birth. Autism has no known cure, and is a life-long disorder. There is no single known cause of ASD. It is widely thought that the disorder stems from a combination of factors, with genetics and environment both playing roles in the development of individual cases.