Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both terms to describe a neurodevelopmental disorder which is often characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behavior. A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions have been grouped together into autism spectrum disorder. Because autism affects brain development, individuals may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. Many parents notice signs within the first 2-3 years of their child's life when developmental milestones are delayed or not achieved fully.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a report released in March 2016 shows the rate of children identified with an autism spectrum disorder remains at 1 in 68 children nationally. This statistic is based on the CDC's evaluation of health and educational records of 8-year-old children in 2012 in 11 states, including New Jersey. New Jersey has the highest rates of those states evaluated: with 1 in 41 children (2.5% of children). This percentage is higher than the average percentage identified with ASD (1.5%) in all communities in the United States where CDC tracked ASD in
2012. The New Jersey rate marks an increase of 12% from the previous 1 in 45 statistic released two years ago.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help children succeed. Starting a program of speech, behavioral interventions or other recommended therapies early on can help children with ASD develop self-care, social and communication skills.
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