April is National Autism Awareness Month, and the Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2006, one in 110 children in the U.S. on average had an autism spectrum disorder. This data came from 11 sites involved in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM).
Although it's still March, there is a lot to know about autism and related disorders in order to prepare for a whole month of awareness and appreciation for individuals who have these disorders. The Autism Society of America encourages people to start their own events to raise money and awareness for autism through the "1Power4Autism" program.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) "are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges," according to the CDC. Some ASDs include autistic disorder (or autism), Asperger's syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (atypical autism).
Spectrum disorders mean that individuals are affected differently. Pervasive developmental disorders mean that people can "experience problems with language, socialization and cognition," according to "Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach." ASDs are part of pervasive developmental disorders, so it's just another way to classify these type of disorders. Pervasive also means that the disorder affects individuals in a more severe way.
People who have autistic disorder can show various symptoms, including the main symptoms associated with pervasive developmental disorders. Some more specific symptoms include lack of eye contact, inability or difficulty forming relationships with others and responding to others (by not showing interest, etc.). There can also be preoccupation with a certain type of behavior, like moving hands in a certain way, according to the abnormal psychology book. Complications in language, among other symptoms, are also common.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are several specific indicators of autism spectrum disorders.