What Is Autism
Autism is a severe developmental disability that is usually noted within the first three years of life. It occurs in 1 of 110 births, exists in every ethnic group and every part of the world, and is much more common in boys than girls. Before treatment, youngsters with autism exhibit very uneven patterns of development. Often, speech is absent or very delayed and children do not relate to objects, events, or other people in expected ways, nor do they respond to touch, taste, sight, or sound in the same manner as their typical peers. Many children exhibit extremely dysfunctional responses, including stereotypic movements, tantrums, and self-injury.
Although the causes of autism are not yet known, there is some evidence that there may be multiple causes, such as genetic factors; insults to brain development (e.g., maternal health problems during pregnancy or problems during delivery); or parents or children’s exposure to toxic chemicals.
Because the etiology of autism is not clearly understood, prevention is not possible. But a significant body of evidence shows that applied behavior analysis technology can make a world of difference for people with autism, especially when treatment begins early.