Get the Facts About Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) comprise a range of complex neurological disorders that impair social, communicative and cognitive functions in a range of affect, commonly called ‘the spectrum’. While science and medicine have yet to find a thorough understanding of ASD and potential treatment methodologies, it is basically understood to be difficult to establish definitive facts.

Reform It Now works to teach those in the legal professions about ASD; our paramount goal is to spread awareness of ASD. Reform It Now works to disseminate information and provide education concerning autism to lawyers, judges and others in our court systems, as well as those working in our prisons and police. Here we present some basic facts to highlight the most critical information about ASD.

Defining Autism

  • Autism is a generic term for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) which are genetic neurological disorders. Those with ASD have severely impaired social, communicative and cognitive functions. Autism has been part of human history since the dawn of mankind.
  • Individuals with ASD suffer from cognitive impairments, though some have typical or above average IQs.
  • Typical ASD behaviors include stereotyped actions (hand flapping, body rocking), insistence on sameness, resistance to change and, in some cases, aggression or self-injury. A very high percentage of those with ASD threaten to, and do commit suicide.
  • Approximately 30- to 50-percent of people with autism experience seizures. These seizures may be prompted by visual, audio or other stimuli. A witness on the stand in court, for example, may experience a seizure brought on by fast-paced questioning.
  • Autism was originally believed to be a form of schizophrenia brought on by a traumatic experience or bad parenting. This is not the case. Persons with autism were, for many centuries, institutionalized under horrific conditions; that is no longer the case, with only the most severe cases requiring institutional care.

Autism Prevalence

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network determined in 2014 that approximately 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 for boys, and 1 in 189 for girls) is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the United States.
  • In New Jersey, where Reform It Now is based, the prevalence rate is 1 in 45 (1 in 28 boys). This extremely high rate is the highest in the Nation and may be reflective of vastly improved testing.
Information obtained from The Autism Science Foundation (www.autismsciencefoundation.org) contributed extensively to this article.