What is autism?
Impacting the nervous system, autism spectrum disorder (or simply autism) encompasses a wide range of conditions. Common symptoms of autism include challenges in social situations, communication, and repetitive behaviors. There are many subtypes of autism, meaning that no two individuals present in exactly the same manner. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), around 1 in 54 American children is impacted by autism.
Is autism on the rise?
Over the past 40 years, autism diagnoses have increased to over 20 times what they were in 1980. It’s difficult to ascertain whether this is due to an actual rise in cases, environmental factors, or a broader definition of diagnosis. The lessened stigma of autism and increased diagnosis rates may also account for the rise in autism levels nationwide. Today, medical professionals are more open to diagnosing milder versions of autism, and increased awareness in the media can lead to earlier identification.