In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about one out of every 150 American children had an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. The newest data from the CDC paints a much broader picture, saying that one out of every 88 children will be diagnosed with ASD.
Even though autism is becoming a more common disorder in the United States, especially amongst children, there are still many widely held misconceptions about what it is and how it affects people’s lives.
Because April is autism awareness month it’s worth the time to briefly discuss what autism is and how it presents itself. Additionally, if you are a parent with a child recently diagnosed with autism, and you haven’t talked to an estate planning attorney about special needs planning, you should schedule an appointment soon.
Autism is not a single disorder, but rather a spectrum of disorders typically grouped into three different categories.
Classical autism is what most people think of when they hear the term. Also known as an autistic disorder, people with classic autism will display significant problems with language, communication, and socialization, as well as have intellectual disabilities.
Asperger’s syndrome is another fairly common form of autism spectrum disorder. However, people with Asperger’s do not have intellectual or language disabilities. While they may display socialization difficulties, people with Asperger’s maintain full cognitive abilities.
Finally there is Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, also known as atypical autism or PDD–NOS. People with this disorder have slight social and communication challenges, but their symptoms are generally milder than with other types of autism spectrum disorders.