What is Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.

Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.

It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.

Early identification can change lives. Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.

Signs of Autism in Children

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects

Facts & Figures

  • About 1 in 59 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
  • ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • ASD is about 4 times more common among boys than among girls.
  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with ASD with an average of between 1% and 2%.
  • About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.

In 2008, the CDC reported 1 in 125 children had autism and autism related disorders. There have been improvements in the awareness and support efforts for families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders however, we must do more. Odyssey Foundation established an Autism Resource Library to help support families affected by the Autism Spectrum Disorder. The library contains reading materials, cd/dvd’s, and sensory items that parents can check out free of charge for two weeks. Autism packets are also available that contains community resources. In order to effectively advocate for our loved ones, we must empower ourselves through education of autism as well as work effectively with our educational, medical, and congressional community. There must be a national, state and local plan to ensure the correct supports for those on the spectrum. This will ensure the correct care and attention is given to meet the needs of the individual wherever they are on the spectrum.

Autism is a part of our community, so we must put and keep parameters in place to provide the much needed support to help those that are on the spectrum. We must do more together.

State of Louisiana

Over 2000 individuals have been diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s Disorder or some other Autism Spectrum Disorder (LA Office for Citizens with Developmental Disorders).

There is a need for community based agencies to help identify, screen, diagnose or serve as a point-of-contact for families seeking help for autistic children.

Developing a Wandering Plan

Family & Community Resources

Partial Listing of Books in the Autism Resource Library
American Academy of Pediatrics
Louisiana State Autism Chapter
Louisiana Department of Education
Autism Speaks
Christus Schumpert Health System – KIDS Clinic
Little Works In Progress – Pediatric Therapy
Families Helping Families Region 7- Shreveport, LA
The Center for Disease Control (CDC)




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