Dr. Q’s Corner – Autism Spectrum Disorders Awareness Month 4/21

April has many National Health Observances (NHOs), special days dedicated to raising awareness about certain health issues. It is the month that World Health Day is celebrated – April 7th! April’s NHOs range from behavioral and physical health concerns for individuals to health issues that impact people globally.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of those conditions that is a concern around the world. It has a big impact on the life of the affected persons and their families. Autism is a complex life-long developmental condition that usually appears in early childhood. It can impact a person’s social skills, ability to communicate, and their relationships.

You may have seen the show The Good Doctor on TV. The lead character is Dr. Shaun Murphy. He is a gifted surgeon who also has autism. You may have noticed he sometimes struggles with relationships and communication. Autism affects each person in different ways. For example, one person might have sensitivity to noise and the way things feel (like the fabric of their clothes against their skin), whereas another person might struggle with depression and aggression.

ASD facts:

  • About 1% of the world population has an ASD
  • In the United States, it is estimated to occur in 1 out of every 54 births
  • More than 3.5 million Americans live with an ASD
  • The rate of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4% from 2000 to 2010
  • It is the fastest growing developmental disorder
  • 35% of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school

Not long ago, doctors and specialists were not well-educated about ASD and didn’t know the best way to help. Individuals with ASD were taken out of their homes and lived in institutions. Nowadays, we know more about the conditions. There is no one single behavior or symptom that identifies a person as being autistic and there is no one single treatment or approach to individuals with autism. We’ve learned that the earlier we identify and start helping a person with an ASD, the better that child’s future in school and employment are.

Autism Society: https://www.autism-society.org/
Wisconsin Chapter: https://www.autismgreaterwi.org/