In this blog, we’ll give you a fact sheet on autism that you can pass on to your patients and audience, and in parts 2 and 3 we’ll cover new developments n research and further explore the link between autism and chiropractic treatment.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that’s grown rapidly in prevalence in the last decade in the United States and other countries.
It’s also called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), encompassing a range of symptoms and degree of severity.
Although there are many on-going studies and research into Autism, there is no known cure, nor a smoking-gun cause, although we do know that is has a strong genetic component.
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability, growing in prevalence by 119.4% between 2000 and 2010.
Right now, about 3.5 million Americans have autism.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s estimated that about 1 in 50 children now have autism or ASD.
That’s up from only 1 in 88 children in 2012.
1 in 110 in 2007
1 in 125 in 2004
1 in 150 in 2002
1 in 166 in 2000
and 1 in 300 children in the 1990s.
In the 1980s, it’s estimated that only 1 in 1,000 children had autism,
1 in 2000 in the 1960s and 70s,
and 1 in 3,000 from 1943 (when it was first diagnosed) through the 1960s
We do know that autism and ASD are 5x more prevalent in boys than girls, although we don't yet know why.
The “Spectrum” is an accepted method of defining the many degrees of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders, including:
Childhood Disintegration Disorder (CDD)
Skills are developed normally, but some are then lost between ages 2-10.
This covers a broad range of developmental disorders that may have some characteristics of autism.
This is similar to autistic disorder except speech and verbal communication usually isn’t impaired or to a lesser degree.
Early signs of autism:
Most signs of ASD appear in the first year of a child’s life and can be diagnosed by age 3 or 4.
No typical pointing or babbling before age 1.
Not speaking single words before 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2.
Not responding to his or her name.
Excessive (or even obsessive) lining up of toys and other objects.
Not making eye contact.
A loss of language and social skills.
Unusual sensory responses.
Feeding difficulties and abnormalities.
Clumsiness and motor skill issues.
Behavior that can cause self-injury.
Angry outbursts and tantrums when presented with change.
About 20-30% of children with ASD also develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood.
Having a child who is autistic or on the Spectrum has profound consequences financially, socially, and for parents and families.
The physical, mental, and emotional stress to parents of autistic children can be debilitating, including lack of sleep, feelings of guilt, acute depression, estrangement among spouses, and social withdrawal.
In fact, families with an autistic child suffer an 80% divorce rate.
Siblings of autistic children also see negative effects, like feelings of resentment and even jealousy, guilt, and fear of anxiety and rejection.
However, children with autistic brothers or sisters also tend to display an increased sense of responsibility, maturity, loyalty, and compassion beyond their years.
The financial toll of autism is staggering.
It now costs about $3.9 million to treat and care for an autistic person for life.
Our society spends a total of $126 billion on autism every year as of 2012, up from $35 billion in 2007.
10% of those costs come from direct medical care,
30% from non-medical care like special education, transportation, childcare, etc.
60% comes from indirect costs like lost wages and opportunities, etc.
Treatment often relies on medication, with 50% of autistic children prescribed medication to help manage their symptoms.
The most commonly prescribed medications include psychoactive drugs, anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, stimulants, and anti-psychotics.
However, only antipsychotics have proven most effective in treating autism.
Many parents and caregivers turn to dietary changes, restrictions, and supplements to help treat their child’s symptoms.
Popular supplements for autism include vitamin B6 + magnesium, DMG, Vitamin C, Probiotics, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Gluten and Casein-free diets are also thought to calm some of the symptoms of ASD.
The good news is that new research proves that early high-quality intervention is the best way to treat autism and spectrum disorders, actually improving brain function.
Look for part 2 of this blog with the latest research on effective early intervention, including pediatric chiropractic care to help prevent and treat autism, and part 3 where we’ll further explore the link between autism and chiropractic treatment.