Autism is a developmental disorder afflicting humans of all ages, genders, races, ethnicities and cultures. It can be an extremely debilitating disease that can have serious impacts on an individuals ability to interact and communicate with the world around them. Autism is a now believed to be a neurological disorder in which the brain does not receive proper signale to communicate with the rest of the body. This can lead the individual to display odd repetitive behaviors. Some of which include, echolalia (mimicking and repeating of words or phrases), excessive/violent rocking or swaying, pacing, hand flapping and sometimes self-injurious behaviors. It causes the individual to react strangely to certain stimulus as well, perhaps laughing at inappropriate times, displaying little to no empathic emotions, and crying seemingly spontaneously. Autism has grown in popularity as a research topic in exponential numbers over the last decade which has led to increased knowledge about the disorder in terms of both etiology and prevalence. In terms of autism being an epidemic, it is not. The reason for the increased level of diagnoses over the last few years can be accounted for in many different ways. According to the Center for Disease Control autism affects nearly 1 out of every 150 children in America, and 1 out of every 94 boys. As more and more research is conducted on this disorder the ability to recognize the symptoms and make early diagnosis increases greatly.
The reason for the rise in diagnoses of autism can be attributed to an increased knowledge of the disorder. Because so much research is being conducted on autism each and every year, scientists are better able to make diagnoses at a young age. When it first came to be known autism was actually considered to be a form of childhood schizophrenia and was considered to be only a childhood disorder. The actual incidence rates of autism are increasing but that is only due to the fact that more is known of the disorder now than ever before. Autism is now considered to be a spectrum disorder, not a black and white kind of issue. Autism is also now classified as a PDD, or pervasive developmental disorder affecting people of all ages, not just children. The spectrum of disorders range from autistic disorder, PDD-NOS (Not otherwise specified), Asperger’s Syndrome, and the more rare versions of childhodd disintegrative disorder and Rett’s Syndrome. There are more resources available to parents that suspect their children may have a form of the disorder as well as an increased public knowledge leading to higher levels of diagnois. Autism is not actually occurring any more prevalently than before, scientists and researchers are simply getting much better at recognizing the symptoms at a much earlier age and therefore giving the perception that it is becoming an epidemic.