Over the last couple of decades, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has gained momentum as one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the number of children with ASD has shot up throughout the 2000s. 1 in 150 children were reported to have autism in 2000, and by 2012, that number rose to 1 in 68.
The Increase in ASD
Why the sharp increase? Scientists are still trying to figure it out. The spike may partially be due to the fact that scientific research is giving us a better understanding of ASD, as well as better ways to detect and diagnose it.
In fact, in a recent study, scientists used brain scans and artificial intelligence to predict – with 96 percent accuracy – which 6-month old infants would go on to be diagnosed with ASD as toddlers. Being able to diagnose autism as early as possible will allow for earlier treatment with intensive therapy, which can make all the difference in the trajectory of a child’s life.
In other encouraging news, research has shown that many children with autism who are nonverbal at the age of 4 will go on to conquer their severe language delays. Of the 535 children included in the study sample, 70 percent achieved phrase speech by age 8, and 47 percent attained fluent speech. These kinds of studies are helping parents realize that, although the initial news of an autism diagnosis may be overwhelming, many children have the capacity to work through their deficits and succeed.
While science is helping to paint a clearer picture of ASD and how to understand it, there’s still a lot to learn. Below is an infographic with some quick facts on autism and information on treatment. Feel free to share to raise autism awareness!