Nearly one child in 90 in the U.S. has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from the Center for Disease Control. ASD affects more than two million people in this country, and almost five times more boys than girls.
Many with ASD have not been diagnosed due to the complex nature of these brain development disorders. To raise awareness of the condition, Bozeman Deaconess Health Services is promoting World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Bozeman Deaconess Hospital will “shine a light on autism” by going blue for the month of April.
World Autism Awareness Day is one of only four official health-specific United Nations Days, bringing the world's attention to autism, a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions across the globe, and to encourage early diagnosis and early intervention.
ASDs, which include Rett and Asperger syndromes, are disabilities characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and repetitive behavior patterns. Those with ASD often are affected by flashing lights, sudden movements and overly loud sounds, making it uncomfortable to participate in many routine activities, such as attending the cinema.
As each person with autism is unique, intervention plans are tailored to address specific needs, and can involve behavioral treatments, medicines or both. Early intensive behavioral intervention involves a child's entire family, working closely with a team of professionals. Many persons with autism also have additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbance, seizures and gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Addressing these conditions can improve attention, learning and related behaviors.