April 2 is World Autism Day.
Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) incorporates a group of neurodevelopmental disorders causing impaired communication skills and social skills. ASDs generally start before three years of age and last a lifetime, but early intervention plays a role in treatment and progress.
“Autism spectrum disorder: The criteria will incorporate several diagnoses from DSM-IV including autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified), into the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder for DSM-5 to help more accurately and consistently diagnose children with autism.”
Boys are five times more likely than girls to have ASDs.
ASDs can be found amongst all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups.
The CDC on “Determining How Many People Have ASDs.”
World: Tens of millions worldwide are affected with ASD (Autism Speaks)
Medical costs for children with an ASD are six times higher than medical costs for children without an ASD. Caring for a child with autism ranges from an estimated $3.5 million to $5 million over a lifetime, according to the Autism Society.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine note that there is no scientifically proven link between the measles vaccination and autism. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that the 1998 study that raised public concern was flawed and has been retracted.
April 21, 2015 – A study of more than 95,000 children found no link between vaccines and autism. The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Early 1900s – Autistic characteristics are studied as symptoms of schizophrenia.
1944 – Hans Asperger, an Austrian physician, publishes a paper about autistic syndrome. The paper gains wider recognition when it is translated into English in the early 1990s.
1964 – Bernard Rimland, a research psychologist, publishes “Infantile Autism: The Syndrome and Its Implications for a Neural Theory of Behavior,” which contradicts the “refrigerator mother” hypothesis. The author of the foreword is child psychiatrist Leo Kanner.
1967 – Autism is classified as a syndrome of schizophrenia in the “International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.”
1967 – University of Chicago professor Bruno Bettelheim writes “The Empty Fortress: Infantile Autism and the Birth of the Self” in which he notes that parents are to blame for the autistic characteristics of their children. The term “refrigerator mother” is popularized again.
1969 – Leo Kanner, speaking at a meeting of the Autism Society of America, says he was misquoted in attributing the cause of autism exclusively to parents.
1980 – Autism is classified separately from schizophrenia in the third edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”
1994 – Asperger’s syndrome is added to the fourth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” as a pervasive developmental disorder.
December 17, 2015 – Scientists at Harvard and MIT announce they have found, for the first time, a link between autistic behavior and reduced activity of a key neurotransmitter, a type of brain chemical that enables the transmission of signals across neurons, allowing the brain to communicate with other organs. Treatments that help the transmitters become more active may improve some of the symptoms, the researchers say, though they caution that more work needs to be done.
April 2016 – SPARK (which stands for Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge), an online research initiative involving more than 20 research centers and 50,000 people affected by autism, is launched. The sponsor, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, claims it is the largest or its kind. The project will gather genetic, behavioral and environmental information about people with autism.