Autism Ribbon

How common is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

In the United States, 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with autism. While in New Jersey, every 1 in 35 children are diagnosed with autism.

Why is there an increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism?

The increase in the number of autistic children is due to increased awareness. More pediatrician, educators, and parents have learned to recognize the features of autism now. This means parents are more capable of identifying symptoms due to greater awareness. It also means that pediatricians are more equipped to give a diagnosis. We are still learning more about the causes of autism.

Is there a difference between how we used to refer to autism vs. how we refer to it now?

The understanding of Autism has changed over time. In the past, autism was often referred to as a “childhood psychosis” or “infantile schizophrenia,” and was thought to be caused by emotional neglect or poor parenting. However, our understanding of autism has evolved significantly over time, and the way that it is referred to has also changed.

In the
1980s, the term “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD) was introduced to reflect the fact that autism is a complex and varied disorder that can manifest in a wide range of symptoms and severity. The term “spectrum” was used to reflect the fact that the symptoms of ASD can range from mild to severe, and can manifest in a variety of ways.

Today, ASD is generally referred to as a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by difficulties with social communication and interaction, as well as repetitive behaviors and interests. It is important to recognize that ASD is a complex and varied disorder, and that each person with ASD will have their own unique set of strengths, challenges, and needs.

Why was it so difficult to assist autistic people thirty years ago?

Thirty years ago, the biological understanding of brain development was minimal, and the definitions of autism were very narrow.  There were also limited treatments were available, and the prognosis was very poor, making it hard to assist autistic people. Psychiatrist were able to treat underlying ADHD, Depression and Anxiety. However, there were not able to treat the underlying diagnosis of Autism itself because of limited available therapies at that time.

Autism Stacking

What efforts has the government made to help autistic individuals?

The government has been making attempts to help autistic individuals. Between the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s, the government passed legislation that provided individuals with educational material to increase awareness about autism. As a result, more autistic individuals were diagnosed and got access to the resources that they needed. Moreover, the Combating Autism Act, which aimed to increase the number of facilities able to diagnose people with autism, was passed in 2006.

In New Jersey, there are many services that became available effective January 1, 2020 through NJ Family Care. These Autism benefits include: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Alternative Communication Assessment and Devices and Sensory Integration. Additionally these services are offered through private insurance companies. Have a diagnosis of Autism can also be helpful in helping your child receive an individualized education plan(IEP).