The Autistic Spectrum

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Autism is a life-long developmental disorder that prevents individuals from properly understanding what they see,hear, and sense. It results in mild to severe problems of social relationships, communication, and behavior. The cause of autism is still unknown. Some research suggests a physical problem affecting those parts of the brain that process language and information coming in from the senses. There may be some imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. Research also points to a possible genetic connection. Environmental reasons are also of concern. Autism may indeed result from a combination of several "causes". Statistics now show 1 in 68 children have Autism.  Please go to this link for a very good article.  

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Estimated number of U.S. kids with autism has skyrocketed by 78% since 2000, according to a report from the federal CDC. One in 88 American kids has autism, according to the new figures. Among boys, it's 1 in 54. Why? One expert says: "Better diagnosis, broader diagnosis, better awareness, and roughly 50% of 'We don't know.'" Click anywhere on this text to go to the article.

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Autism/PDD . . . is a collection of responses which must be viewed in context, and observation is always more productive than labeling. Across the wide spectrum of the autism/PDD syndrome, individual variations on several key features can be recognized. Reciprocal social interactions, both verbal and nonverbal, are unusual in quality and generally difficult to synchronize and to carry out.
Impairments of the central nervous system typically result in over-reactions, under-reactions, or inconsistent responses to various sensory stimuli. Because sensory input is difficult to organize and control, the individual's activities and interests may appear restricted in their nature and repertoire, frequently involving significant repetition and a need for predictability rather than change.

It is important to view the behavior of people with autism/PDD as meaningful adaptations and to take a positive, respectful approach to them, forgoing the common tendency to judge their competence and capacity on the basis of their sensorimotor challenges.
Source: Autism National Committee AUTCOM

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Autism is a developmental disability that appears during the first three years. Autism is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain.
How many people have autism ?

As well as the 5 per 10,000 with classic autism or Kanners syndrome, it is estimated that 15 in every 10,000 have what are called, in North America, other pervasive developmental disorders. Current statistics tell us that approximately every 1 in every 500 persons in the U.S. alone has some form of Autism. And sadly, as we all know, this number is increasing daily. 
In addition, perhaps 71 in every 10,000 have a milder form of the disorder, mainly affecting social relationships rather than communication and language. About half of this larger number (36 in every 10,000 of the population) is thought to have Aspergers Syndrome. These figures add up to 91 persons in every 10,000, nearly one per cent of the total population. Throughout the world, it has been estimated that 48 million people have some form of autism.
An interesting and important question is: "Is the prevalence of autism increasing?" Some have described the increases in diagnoses of some form of autism as an "explosion".  Perhaps this reflects greater awareness of the distinctive impairments by professionals and parents, as well as the expansion of criteria to include those who combine autism with some other disability. Perhaps there has really been an increase in the numbers and proportions of affected people, possibly related to environmental factors, viral infections, vaccinations and over-use of antibiotics.
Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle or educational levels do not affect the chance of occurrence.

Autism interferes with the normal development of the brain in areas which control verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, and sensory development. Children or adults with autism may exhibit repeated body movements such as hand flapping and rocking, show unusual responses to people or attachments to objects, and resist changes in routine. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present.

Autism is often referred to as a spectrum disorder, meaning the symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe. Although autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors, children and adults can exhibit any combination of the behaviors in any degree of severity. Two children, both with a diagnosis of autism, can act very differently from one another.

Several old theories about the cause of autism have been proven false. Autism is not a mental illness. Children with autism are not unruly kids with a behavior problem. Autism is not caused by bad parents who gave their child too little attention. Most importantly, no known factors in the psychological environment of a child have been shown to cause autism.

It is conservatively estimated that 400,000 people in the U.S. today have some form of autism. It's prevalence rate now places it as the third most common developmental disability - more common than Down's syndrome. Yet, the majority of the public, including many professionals in the medical, educational, and vocational fields are still unaware of how autism affects people and how to effectiively work with individuals with autism.

Persons with Autism may possess the following characteristics in various combinations in varying degrees of severity:

~ Inappropriate laughing or giggling
~ No real fear of dangers
~ Apparent insensitivity to pain
~ May not want cuddling
~ Sustained unusual or repetitive play
~ Uneven physical or verbal skills
~ May avoid eye contact
~ May prefer to be alone
~ Difficulty in expressing needs-may use gestures
~ Inappropriate attachments to objects
~ Insistance on sameness
~ Echos words or phrases
~ Inappropriate response to sound
~ Spins objects or self
~ Difficulty in interacting with others

Asperger's Syndrome is part of the Autism Spectrum and is characterized by specific delays in social, communicative, and cognitive development. It is a life long condition and the attributes will change with different stages of life. The most prominent characteristic of the person with Asperger's is their inability to read and respond to social cues. They usually lack the ability to read body language and facial expressions. They have difficulty keeping eye contact. Their conversations seem to be one sided, often focusing on their obsessions. It doesn't enter their minds that the other person may not be interested. Their conversations often speak of facts, rather than actual social conversation.

Studies suggest that Asperger's is dominate among males. It has been suggested that this may not really be true; that, in fact, girls just have a better ability to blend in and often are never diagnosed. Please go to Tony Attwood's site at  for an excellent paper offering information on girls with AS.

The major characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome are:

~ Very concrete literal thinking
~ Math learning disability
~ Strong spelling but poor writing and written work
~ Poor reading comprehension
~ Marked impairment in the use of nonverbal behavior such as eye to eye gaze, body language,and facial expression
~ Repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities
~ Lack of organization
~ Inflexible adherence to routine and change
~ Clumsy, uncoordinated, stereotypic motor movements
~ Unusual social styles and limited social skills
~ Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental age level
~ Lack of spontaneous seeking to enjoy interests or achievements with others
~ Onset commonly occurs after the age of 3

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Treating children with high functioning autism


Autism is one of the most commonly diagnosed developmental disabilities in children. It is a lifelong disability that is usually diagnosed before the age of three. Autism can interfere with a persons ability to process information, interact with others, and learn common tasks. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that there are varying degrees of it, from the very profoundly affected, to high functioning (Aspergers Syndrome).


Certain types of high functioning autism are often diagnosed as Pervasive Developmental Disorder or PDD. Symptoms include delayed or absence of speech, the inability to appropriately relate to others, repetitive movements, such as hand flapping, and an insistence of a routine. If a child is suspected of having autism, they should be tested and diagnosed by a reputable professional, such as a pediatric neurologist, or child psychologist who is familiar with the disorder. With the correct intervention, the higher functioning autistic child can learn to overcome his difficulties and eventually be mainstreamed into a regular classroom. However, there are some recommendations and guidelines that must be followed when training and treating these exceptional children.


Once a child has been diagnosed with autism, seeking treatment as soon as possible is crucial. In the U.S, each school district is mandated to offer intervention programs to assist children with this disorder. Establishing an individualized educational and therapy plan is the first step in treating children with this disorder. Since autism is not a disease, there is no single solution to addressing it. Rather, a series of therapies must be mapped out for the affected child. These include development of social, behavioral, communication, and motor skills. An Individualized Educational Plan, or IEP is formulated through teacher, specialist, and parent inputs. It is this plan that lays the groundwork for the childs necessary therapy and academic training.


One of the biggest misconceptions of high functioning autistic children is that they are unable to accomplish or learn many tasks if they have low testing IQ scores. This is not the case, since measuring the IQ of such children cannot be done with any degree of accuracy. Many factors, such as distractions in the testing environment as well as their level of hyperactivity may interfere with the test taking. Quite simply, the child with high functioning autism may just require more time to respond along with some visual input to help clarify a question. This is especially true since people with autism tend to think in more visual terms than most people do. As a result of these discoveries, special education teams have come up with a series of approaches to successfully teach these children in the public sector.


Another tool often used in helping these children, is that of a schedule. Because many autistic children resist changes and disruptions in their routines, it is important to provide them with a plan so they know what activities are first, next, and last. If they are unable to read, then a picture schedule can be provided. These children also need advanced notice of impending changes. For example, using the phrase in five minutes, were going to put away the puzzles, and read a story will assist them in transitioning to this next activity.


In addition to special academic training, the high functioning autistic child may require additional therapies in speech, and language. Despite the fact that these children can be quite verbal, sometimes additional work is often needed to correct specific letter and word pronunciations. If necessary, language skills are addressed so that the child learns how to respond appropriately to certain phrases and questions. This type of therapy is often administered on an individualized basis, by a speech and language therapist during the course of the school day.


Many children may also require some degree of occupational therapy for motor skill and sensory integration problems. These sensory problems may cause children to be overly sensitive to certain textures, noises, smells, and sounds. An occupational therapist that is specially trained in this field can treat the child with sensory issues. If the child has problems with fine motor skills that interfere with writing and other necessary tasks, therapy is used to address these problems as well. As in speech and language therapy, the child can often receive occupational therapy at school if he or she has demonstrated a need for it.


Some aspects of autism may interfere with the childs inability to focus or behave appropriately, despite all attempts of behavioral modification. If this is the case, medication may be needed to help control any anxieties, hyperactivity, and obsessive behaviors. Physicians experienced with autism, such as pediatric neurologists, should be consulted before deciding on such a treatment plan.


Through early testing and intervention, these children can learn to overcome their difficulties and grow up to become successful and productive members of society.


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List of Possible Characteristics of a Person with Asperger's Syndrome, High Functioning Autism or (PDD-NOS).

With thanks to Gail in Illinois for this link! :) Click on this text to go to US State Rankings on Services to Adults with Developmental Disabilities. Click on the state you want, and you will get a pdf file with info.

Click on this text for more background on US State Rankings on Services to Adults with Developmental Disabilities.

Check out this You Tube Video on First Responder Dennis Debbaudt!

Get Tested For Mercury Contamination-Click anywhere on this text, scroll down the page and click on "order a testing kit now" for $25.00

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Some of my favorite quotes:
"All kids are gifted. Some just open their packages earlier than others." ~ Michael Carr
"Parents have become so convinced that educators know what is best for children, that they forget that they themselves are really the experts." ~ Marian Wright Edelman
"I am autistic, and I can assure you, there is no "normal person" inside of me, nor is there one inside of any other autistic individual.  The myth of the "normal boy trapped inside the shell of autism" is just as inaccurate and just as damaging, as the myth of the "refrigerator mother."  If I could offer one piece of advice to all mothers everywhere, it would be to love your child for who they are, instead of mourning for who they are not." ~ Anonymous

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. ~ Albert Camus

The worst possible fate for such a child is to be placed in a program for troublemakers. When that happens, he says, a perfect victim is surrounded by perfect victimizers. ~ Fred Volkmar

Our children may not remember anything we have said to them as children, but they will NEVER forget how we made them feel. ~ Author Unknown

...Sooner or later you're going to realize, just as I did, there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path... ~ Morpheus, from the movie "The Matrix"

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. ~ Gilda Radner

Be yourself. No one can ever tell you you're doing it wrong. ~James Leo Herlihy

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. ~ Margaret Thatcher

Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. ~ Henry Van Dyke

Once we know people's stories, we feel compassion instead of judgment. Today, practice remembering that everyone has a story.~ Mary Manin Morrissey

Unless school districts and other providers of early intervention 'get on the bandwagon' and start OFFERING effective early intervention (which has been known for years now) rather than forcing parents to FIGHT for effective intervention(s) one at a time, greater awareness will not lead to "more effective early intervention and improved outcomes." ~ Author Unknown

Michael Maloney (Teach Your Children Well) refers to the public schools' failure at teaching our children well as "academic child abuse."

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Normal is in the eye of the beholder. ~ Whoopi Goldberg
Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say. ~ Author Unknown

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead

There's only one person in the world like you. If you think about it for a moment, there has never been...and there never will be--in the history of the earth--another person just like you. ~ Mr. Fred Rogers

Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend. ~ Albert Camus

In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. ~ Albert Camus

Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time. ~ Rabbinical Saying

Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said. ~ Author Unknown

Children need models rather than critics. ~ Joseph Joubert

A baby is God's opinion that life should go on. ~ Carl Sandburg

You cannot catch a child's spirit by running after it; you must stand still and for love, it will soon itself return. ~ Arthur Miller

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Any child can tell you that the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he's in trouble. ~ Dennis Fakes

If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm. ~ Bruce Barton

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love. ~ Mildred B. Vermont

A good mother is worth hundreds of schoolmasters. ~ George Herbert

A mother understands what a child does not say. ~ Jewish proverb

My dad has always taught me these words: care and share. That's why we put on clinics. The only thing I can do is try to give back. If it works, it works. ~ Tiger Woods

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me. ~ Jim Valvano

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love the most is soap-on-a-rope. ~ Bill Cosby

Children are poor men's riches. ~ Author Unknown

Children with Autism are heroes, when you think about how hard they must work, just to get through each day.  ~ Author Unknown

All Snowflakes are formed according to a master theme and so they all are much alike.  But as they grow, they execute a multitude of variations on this theme so that each becomes a thing of individual beauty, uniquely set apart.

And so with children, who while very much alike are subtly different - each with his or her own personal expectations, his or her own specific capabilities and interests, and his or her own particular needs, doubt and frustrations.  Different in ways that well might shape the world, if we who guide them respect their differences.  ~ Author Unknown ~

IMPORTANT: This site is not intended to replace professional medical advice. The information is given as a starting point so that you as a parent, guardian or relative can make a well-informed decision to obtain the help and services your special needs child(ren) requires. I don't necessarily endorse all of the interventions, therapies or strategies covered here. What works for one won't necessarily work for another. One size does not fit all! :)

St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of inability to pay. Click anywhere on this text to go to St. Jude and donate, visit their Gift Shop, become a Partner In Hope or volunteer.

Shaken Baby Syndrome ~ Each year in the United States alone, medical treatment is sought for an estimated 1,400-1,600 babies who have been shaken. Please click anywhere on this text to visit this site for information. For more sites, please check the "Videos, Links and Interesting Stuff" link above.

A pair of studies on autism rates show that somewhere around one percent of all U.S. children currently have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The rate is even higher among 6 to 11 year olds and among boys. Posted at Source of info was Huffington Post on August 11, 2009. Click anywhere on this text and you will be taken to the article.

If the music on my website is too loud, please adjust the volume on your computer. I have no control over how loud or soft the music plays. Thanks. :)

Lenny Shafer's News Report has the latest news on Autism, Special Education, Behaviorial Research, Calendar of Events and much much more!

Neuroscience for Kids - Info to help explain Autism to children. Click on this text and you'll be taken to the website

Number of Children Ages 6-21 Served Under IDEA, Part B By Disability, During the 2002-03 School Year (numbers as of 2003)

Click on the award and you'll be taken to Ariel's Home Page (


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Did you Know?
*Diagnosis of autism is estimated to occur in 1 in 67
* It is estimated that more than 1 to 1.5 million people in the U.S. alone have this disorder.
*Is 4 times more prevalent in males than females.
*Today 80% of the Autism population is under 18.
*Has been growing at an estimated rate of 100-200 percent every 5 years.
*  A family that has a biologically related relative with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is much more likely to have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder than a family without this history.
*Autism rates in America have gone from 1 in 10,000 (1994) to 1 in 150 (2007).
*Based on past progression rates, we could be looking at 1 in 9 by 2015.
*It can cost about $3.2 million to take care of a person with autism over his/her lifetime.
* 90% of costs are in adult services.
*Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention.
* A new case of autism is diagnosed nearly every 20 minutes.
* There are 24,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. per year.
* The economic impact of autism is more than $90 billion and expected to more than double in the next decade.
* Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases.
* There is no medical detection treatment, or cure for autism.
*Latest study from the CDC reports 1 in 12 American women of childbearing age has mercury levels in her blood above the levels considered safe for the developing fetus.
There are 5 disorders that fall under the Autism Umbrella:
*Autistic Disorder (Autism)
*Asperger's Syndrome
*Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
*Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
*Rett's Disorder

Some of you that have frequented my site may remember the Fighting Autism Clock that was in this spot. It's come to my attention, thanks to a very nice Mom I met via the internet, that this is found to be very offensive to many people on the Autistic Spectrum. I cannot tell you how terrible I feel about this. I had no idea. I've taken it off and would like you to click on this text to see why.

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Autism/puzzle artwork can be found at:

The Autistic Spectrum  ~ Established April 7, 2001

I've been asked the name of the song that is playing on my site when you view the first page. It's "I'm Still Here" by Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls. It was first heard in the movie Treasure Planet. If you'd like the words, click on this text and it will take you to a page here on my site. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.