The study also found that ASD was 4 to 5 times higher in boys than in girls. The CDC estimates 1 in 70 boys and 1 in 315 girls have an ASD.
What accounts for this staggering increase?
The CDC admits that they can isolate no one factor at this time, without further research and conclusive evidence.
Recent developments in earlier detection might account for the rise in autism diagnoses and the CDC confirms that improved community awareness, the widening of diagnostic criteria to include more mild cases and out right earlier identification have added to this increase.
So the CDC are keen to acknowledge that is not yet conclusive that the condition is on such a steep rise, but the recognition of symptoms and labeling has drastically increased.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends systematically screening children for autism at 18 months and 24 months even when a concern or risk is not conclusively recognised. Their philosophy is to screen children early and often.
However, parents are either the first to identify symptoms or the most likely and they need to be vigilant in helping track a child’s development. Close scrutiny will help determine how well they are progressing and ensuring they are not regressing in their skill development.
A child with ASD will develop symptoms before the age of 3. These symptoms can be detected as early as a few months of age, or not show up until 24 months or later. Some children develop normally until around 18 months and then stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had. Common symptoms are:
- Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
- Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
- Experience delayed speech and language skills
- Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Be extremely agitated by minor changes
- Have obsessive interests
- Flap their hands, rock their body or spin in circles
- Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel
There are three different types of ASD:
- Autistic Disorder: Significant language delays, social and communication challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. Some may have intellectual disability.
- Asperger Syndrome: Milder symptoms of autistic disorder. Typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder (atypical autism): Usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with typical autistic disorder. Symptoms might pose only social and communication challenges.
If you have concerns about possible delays in your child's developmental, contact your doctor in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with your doctor's response or if he confirms your suspicions, ask for a referral to a qualidied specialist. Someone that will be able to perform a more in-depth evaluation of your child.