April is National Autism Awareness Month

April 2008 – National Autism Awareness Month

www.NJTopDocs.com a division of The NJ Medical Expert brings you information on a very important topic.

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and you may ask yourself, “What is Autism?”

According to the Autism Society of America (ASA), Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.

In February 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDME autism prevalence report. The report, which looked at a sample of Eight year olds in 2000 and 2002, concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 150 American children, and almost 1 in 94 boys. The issuance of this report caused a media uproar, but the news was not a surprise to ASA or to the 1.5 million Americans living with the effects of autism spectrum disorder. Nonetheless, the spotlight shown on autism as a result of the prevalence increase opens opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve these families facing a lifetime of supports for their children.

“While the prevalence rate of 1:150 is alarming enough, the CDC found the rate in NJ was even higher at 1:94”, says Dr. Jill Harris, Director of Psychology and Coordinator of the Autism Center of Excellence at Children’s Specialized Hospital. “It is hard to find someone who has not been affected by autism in some way, whether it is having a relative with autism or having a friend or a neighbor whose relative has autism… Now that our suspicions are confirmed about the high rate of autism, we must make sure that families affected by autism get the help they need”.

Know the Signs: Early Identification Can Change Lives
Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.

Here are some of ASA’s signs to look for in the children in your life:

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of object

The NJ Medical Expert – www.NJTopDocs.com would like to remind everyone that Autism knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries; family income levels; lifestyle choices; or educational levels, and can affect any family and any child.

For more information on Autism please contact Dr. Jill Harris at [email protected] or go to www.autism-society.org and www.njautismcouncil.org.
The www.NJTopDocs.com is a resource for NJ residents to find board certified physicians, hospitals and healthcare providers committed to high quality care and patient satisfaction. Partners of the site include Goryeb Children’s Hospital, Children’s Specialized Hospital and the Autism Society.

For more information and partnership opportunities, e-mail us at [email protected] and visit www.NJTopDocs.com.