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April is the Autism Awareness Month



What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. It is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). There is often nothing about how people with autism look that sets them apart from other people. Autism is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.


Your child’s growth and development are kept track of through a partnership between you and your health care provider. It is positive parenting to follow how your child grows and develops specially how your child plays, learns, speaks and acts. If you are concerned talk to your child’s doctor. Don’t wait; acting early can make a real difference.

What Causes Autism

All the causes of autism are not yet known. However, there is evidence that shows that there are likely many causes for multiple types of autism. There may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have autism, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors

  • Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop autism
  • Children who have a sibling with autism are at a higher risk of also having autism.
  • There is some evidence that the critical period for developing autism occurs before, during, and immediately after birth.
  • Children born to older parents are at greater risk for having ASD.

Autism continues to be an important public health concern. Understanding the factors that make a person more likely to develop autism will help scientists learn more about the causes.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

  • Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
  • Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
  • Not play "pretend" games (pretend to "feed" a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people's feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Give unrelated answers to questions
  • Get upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
  • lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using

There is currently no cure for autism. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development. Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills. Services can include therapy to help the child talk and interact with others. Therefore, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has autism or other developmental problems.

Even if your child has not been diagnosed with autism, he or she may be eligible for early intervention treatment services. In addition, treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, often does not need to wait for a formal autism diagnosis. For more information on autism (ASD), log on:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Facts About Autism (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html)

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH): Autism (http://www.health.state.mn.us/topics/autism/)

University of Minnesota: Minneapolis Somali Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevalence Project (http://rtc.umn.edu/autism/)

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