As researchers nationwide learn more about autism, the rate of diagnosis has increased significantly in children.
1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism – a complex neurobiological disorder, ranging from mild to severe, that impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others and typically lasts throughout a lifetime. Autism is diagnosed more than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS, but because of the stigma attached to the condition, many parents don't seek help for their children.
"Early intervention plays a vital role in giving children with autism a chance at having as close to a normal life as possible," says Fran Heisner, a speech therapist at Southeast Alabama Medical Center. During Autism Awareness Month, celebrated each April and sponsored by the Autism Society of America (ASA), an opportunity is provided to educate the public about the condition that is usually evident by age 3.