An Unfinished Puzzle: Autism in the U.S.

Autism is one of the most prevalent, yet least understood, developmental disabilities in the U.S. As of March 2014, the incidence of autism in the country has increased by 30 percent; it now affects 1 in 88 children according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite this sense of urgency, experts are still at a loss on how to diagnose this disorder, let alone how to treat it completely.

One of the main impediments is the fact that the body of knowledge for autism is still in its infancy. A few decades ago, autism was simply identified as an intellectual disability. Yet as the CDC found out, a large number of children with autism possess above average IQ. Autism was also thought of as a permanent disability, but some people who were diagnosed with autism in their childhood eventually “matured” as they got older, exhibiting only minor symptoms like the lack of social skills.

While there is still much to discover about autism, experts agree that early diagnosis and intervention are essential to an autistic child’s development. Autism can be diagnosed in children as young as two years old, and they can benefit from therapies that improve their language, play, and motor skills. Therapy also needs to be tailored to a child’s specific needs and may involve certain toys, like an American boy doll.


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