By: Giulia Frasca, Esq.
April 2, 2015 is the eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day. Organizations around the world are celebrating with fundraising events and events to raise awareness. Within the last decade, research has led to the discovery of new information regarding autism. See some of these discoveries below:
- Autism’s prevalence has soared within the last ten years. Ten years ago, autism was diagnosed in approximately 1 in 166 children. Today, it has increased more than 100% as it is prevalent in 1 out of 68 children.
- Direct screening of children indicates that autism may be more widespread than current statistics suggest.
Autism Speaks, an organization founded ten years ago to raise awareness and funding for research into Autism studies conducted a study in South Korea where it screened children in South Korean schools. The study concluded that 1 in 38 children were affected by Autism. The majority of the children were previously undiagnosed. A similar study is currently being worked on in conjunction with the CDC in the United States.
- Early intervention makes a difference. It is now possible to have an Autism diagnosis by age 2. Early screening is important so that services can be administered. Early intervention affects underlying brain development and activity and may also reduce the need for interventions later in life.
- Behavioral therapy for autism may be essential. Behavioral issues may be present in a child diagnosed with Autism. Behavioral therapy can have significant benefits in the development of a student with Autism. Health coverage for behavioral treatments is now available in 38 states. Many families can now benefit from behavioral treatment for children diagnosed with Autism.
- One out of three persons diagnosed with Autism cannot speak. Assistive technology is necessary for one third of persons diagnosed with Autism to be able to communicate. These devices can be very expensive. Efforts are underway to help obtain insurance coverage for such necessary devices.
- It is possible for a nonverbal child diagnosed with Autism to eventually speak. Appropriate services and therapy can make it possible for a nonverbal child with Autism to speak. It is important to communicate with the school district and providers regarding the child’s needs and to obtain evaluations to determine the needs of the child.
- Many children with Autism suffer from gastrointestinal issues. Gastrointestinal issues and allergies to foods are common in children with Autism. The pain that results can exacerbate behavioral issues. It is important to understand the child’s gastrointestinal issues and make others who work with the child aware so that the issues can properly be managed, for example, following gluten- free or lactose-free diet.
- Children with Autism often have trouble sleeping. Any trouble sleeping or sleep disturbances should be discussed with the child’s doctor so that interventions can be taken. The information should then be relayed to the school if the child is school-aged so that an appropriate program can be provided, such as planning instruction in the morning if the child gets sleepy in the afternoon.
Identifying the best services for someone with special needs can be daunting. We can help you navigate the system, understand your child’s legal rights, and establish the financial foundation that will enable as much independence as possible. Our goal is to empower families with the tools they need to advocate for their loved ones—for a free and appropriate education, public benefits, and social services.
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