About Autism
Autism is a neurological and developmental brain disorder commonly known under the umbrella term, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).   The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that  autism affects 1 in 50 children in the United States and is currently more common than childhood diabetes, AIDS, and cancer combined; autism is now considered a national epidemic. Studies show the prevalence rate is increasing at an alarming rate of 10-17% annually. This epidemic is not limited to the U.S.; it is global, affecting millions worldwide.
The cause and cure for autism are currently unknown, although researchers and scientists globally are working tirelessly to understand this complex disorder. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, 2013) is a reference used by the medical and autism profession to diagnose autism. It states that specific criteria in the domain of Social Communication and Restricted Interests/Repetitive Behaviors are characteristics and observable, symptoms are present in early childhood, and there are no other detectable medical conditions that are similar.

Under the DSM-5, diagnosis will require a person to exhibit three deficits in Social Communication and at least two symptoms in the category of Restricted range of Activities/Repetitive Behaviors. Within the second category, a new symptom will be included: hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment. In addition to the diagnosis, each person evaluated will also be described in terms of any known genetic cause (e.g. fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome), level of language and intellectual disability and presence of medical conditions such as seizures, anxiety, depression, and/or gastrointestinal (GI) problems. Finally, the DSM-5 added a new category called Social Communication Disorder (SCD). This will allow for a diagnosis of disabilities in Social Communication without the presence of repetitive behavior. 

If a child, student, or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms in these core areas, request a screening from your pediatrician or professional as soon as possible.
There is a saying in the field of autism: “When you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.” The autism spectrum is wide, therefore, each child is unique, exhibiting unique symptoms. Regardless of symptoms or severity, there has been extensive research and case studies evidencing that early intervention will improve outcomes for each child.  Accessing  appropriate services and evidence-based treatments shortly after a diagnosis has been provided will serve to improve the symptoms of autism. Therefore, I encourage you to Act Now!