- About ASF
- What is Autism?
- How Common is Autism?
- Early Signs of Autism
- Autism Diagnosis
- Following a Diagnosis
- Treatment Options
- Beware of Non Evidence-Based Treatments
- Autism and Vaccines
- Autism Science
- Autism Research Strategic Plan
- Research by Topic
- Research by Year
- Interviews with Scientists
- Science Journals
- Autism In The News
- Recommended Reading
- Participate in Research
- NIH ACE Grants
- NIMH Resources
- Autism Research Glossary
- Quick Facts About Autism
- What We Fund
- Funding Calendar
- ASF Funded Research
- Research Results
- Grant Outcomes Reports
- Apply for a Research Grant
- Apply for a Research Mini-Grant
- Apply for an Undergraduate Summer Research Grant
- Apply for IMFAR Travel Grant
- Get Involved
- Day of Learning & Evening of Celebration
- Contact Us
Quick Facts About Autism
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a complex set of neurological disorders that severely impair social, communicative and cognitive functions.
- Individuals with ASD suffer from cognitive impairments, though some have typical or above average IQs.
- Typical ASD behaviors include stereotyped actions (hand flapping, body rocking), insistence on sameness, resistance to change and, in some cases, aggression or self-injury.
- Between 30-50% of people with autism have seizures.
- Autism was originally believed to be a form of schizophrenia brought on by a traumatic experience or bad parenting. This is not the case.
- In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network determined that approximately 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 for boys, and 1 in 252 for girls) is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the United States.
Causes of Autism
- No one is sure what causes autism. Through twin studies, scientists have determined that autism is a genetically based condition. For example, if one identical twin has autism then there is an 80-90% chance that the other twin will also be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The chance that fraternal twins will both be affected by ASD if one twin is afflicted is approximately 3-10%.
- Scientists are unsure what, if any, environmental triggers may be involved in autism. Beliefs in the late 1990s and early 2000s that vaccines may cause autism have since been disproven through numerous studies.
- It is possible to detect signs of autism in infants as young as 6-18 months. For example, if a baby fixates on objects or does not respond to people, he or she may be exhibiting early signs of an autism spectrum disorder.
- Older babies and toddlers may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact, lack joint attention, or engage in repetitive movements such as rocking, or arm flapping. They may play with toys in unusual ways.
- Parents who notice these signs, or are concerned their children are not meeting developmental milestones, should contact their pediatricians and request a developmental screening.
- Scientists agree that the earlier a child receives early intervention services the better the child’s prognosis. All children with autism can benefit from early intervention, and some may gain enough skills to be able to attend a mainstream school.
- The most effective treatments available today are applied behavioral analysis (ABA) and occupational, speech and physical therapy.
- There is no cure for autism, and most individuals with ASD will need support and services throughout their lifetime.
- Many supposed “cures” for autism advertised on the internet are not backed through scientific studies and be harmful.
- Autism was first described by Dr. Leo Kanner in 1943. He reported on eleven children who showed a marked lack of interest in other people, but a highly unusual interest in the inanimate environment.