Autism Spectrum Disorder or Autism, is an umbrella term used to describe a group of complex disorders of brain development. It affects the way people see the world and respond to stimuli (sound, light, touch, space, smell, taste) in it. Autism is also known as a social communication disorder and affects four major areas of development. These include:
- Language and communication
- Social interaction
- Thinking and behavior
- Sensory processing
The symptoms of autism are usually evident before the age of three. The severity of the diagnosis or the level of support needed varies from person to person, and no two people with autism are alike. While autism is a life-long condition (there is no cure), early intervention can play a huge role in the prognosis, i.e. the management of symptoms and coping skills that can be taught. Once an individual is able to manage their anxiety (which is very common in people affected by ASD), they are able to learn other skills important for their development.
According to the Centre for Disease Control (2014), ASD affects 1 in 68 people globally. It affects 1 in 42 boys, and 1 in 189 girls. So boys are 4-5 times more likely to have autism than girls. Statistics have revealed a 10-17% annual growth rate in recent years.