April is autism awareness month, something that’s important not only for people affected by this disease, but also for those who have little or no experience with it. It’s estimated that autism affects one out of every 88 children in the United States. While parents with autistic children should develop a special needs plan as soon as possible, everyone can benefit by taking some time to better understand this common affliction.
To begin with, it’s important to know that autism is not a singular a disease or medical condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that autism is a collection of three medical conditions. They’re grouped together under the term autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.
A lot of people who hear the word autism think of the symptoms associated with classic autism, or as it is known, autistic disorder. People with autistic disorder have significant socialization and communication problems as well as cognitive impairments.
Less severe than autistic disorder is a condition called Asperger’s syndrome. People with Asperger’s syndrome experience milder communication and socialization problems, but do not have intellectual or cognitive disabilities. Someone with Asperger’s may also exhibit eccentric behaviors and take strong interest in unusual topics.
Finally there is pervasive developmental disorder—not otherwise specified, commonly referred to as PDD–NOS or atypical autism. Anyone with this condition also has mild communication or socialization problems and retains normal intellectual abilities.
If you would like to know more about autism you can visit the CDC website.