Autism FAQ

Autism Toolbox offers introductory answers to frequently asked questions about Autism. Some answers may include links that will guide you to further information on our website or from other sources. Please note, we CANNOT answer questions about a specific child, medical questions, or help with diagnosis of any condition.

1. Q: What is Autism?

A: Autism is a neurological disorder that causes impairments in communication, ability to learn, and social relatedness. Autism usually strikes during the first three years of a child's life. Parents often tell of a normal talkative child who suddenly seems to disappear before their eyes. The cause of autism is unknown.

2. Q: What is a "spectrum disorder"?

A: Autism is a spectrum disorder where symptoms and characteristics can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe and in any combination. A high functioning individual with autism might simply seem eccentric, a loner. More severely affected individuals may hardly communicate and prefer to function primarily in "their own world". Most individuals fall in the middle of the spectrum.

3. Q: What are the known statistics of Autism: incidence, cost and ratio?

A: Autism is more common than previously believed--occurring in 1 in every 500 births. (Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention 1997). It is the third most common developmental disorder. Autism affects over 400,000 Americans and costs the nation well over $13 billion a year. It is four times more common in boys than girls.

4. Q: What medical advances are being made in autism?

A: Autism has a long history of neglect by medical science. But for the first time the National Institute of Health is allocating research dollars to study autism and attract new scientists to investigate the disorder. One of the most exciting and rapidly advancing areas of study is genetic research.

5. Q: What is the most effective educational approach for children with autism?

A: Today most experts believe an "early and intensive behavior intervention program" using a combination of teaching procedures is necessary to have a child reach their full potential. A full assessment of the child's strengths and deficits should direct the child's program.

6. Q: Is there any research available to substantiate the cost-benefit of early intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism?

A: Research with children who have, or are at risk for, various disabilities has shown that effective early intervention can substantially reduce their need for specialized services later on. To be effective, however, Guralnick (1998) and Ramey and Ramey (1998) found that early intervention must be (1) comprehensive, (2) intensive, (3) extended over time, (4) individualized, and (5) delivered directly to children. Of course, such intervention is neither cheap nor easy, so it is important to determine how this kind of intervention is likely to pay off not only in benefits to particular children and families but also in financial savings

7. Q: I have concerns about a child, how do I know if the child has autism?

A: Parents and physicians, in monitoring a child's healthy development, must be responsive to any concerns raised about a child. If you have any concerns about a child's developmental progress, it is crucial to take action, and to arrange for a routine developmental screening.  For more detailed information visit First Signs.

8. Q: Have any parents used the Chelation Therapy?  If yes do they think it reduced the autism in their child?  Can you send me any information on Chelation Therapy?

A: Autism Toolbox maintains no data on chelation therapy.  You should speak to your medical doctor about whether or not it is an option for your child.

9. Q: Do autistic children go on to be full functioning adults? Will my child need extra care in adulthood?

A: The answer to this question really depends on the child, the degree of the disability, and the quality and quantity of the intervention.  With the right intervention, many children with autism can make great strides.  Some will go on to independent lives, others will not.  Many will need some kind of care in adulthood.  Since autism is a spectrum disorder and treatment and intervention can vary so widely, it is impossible to predict outcomes for each individual.

10. Q: Our Autistic grandson goes to school and gets dressed okay, but when he comes home, he has to be naked. Is this a common problem?

A: It is a common preference for children on and off the spectrum to remove items of clothing, especially shoes and socks, from time to time.  Sometimes children on the autistic spectrum shun clothing because of sensory issues, sometimes it is a behavioral problem.  For example, if your grandson likes to get your attention and you give him a lot of attention when he removes his clothes, that would reinforce the behavior.  A functional assessment of the behavior by a competent professional will tell you about the function of the behavior and give you some insight on developing a plan to change it.

11. Q: What causes Autism? Is it something children are just born with or can it have something to do with something that happens at birth?

A: Unfortunately, science has not been able to give us the solid answers we would like on this issue and there is a great deal of controversy surrounding it.  While everyone at Autism Toolbox would like to have this question answered, we have decided to put our efforts into training and education so that, whatever the causes may turn out to be, we can help our children learn and grow today.  There are many organization, however that have dedicated themselves to finding the answers.  An online search of autism causes will give you many links to these various organizations.  See Autism Society and the Autism Society of Oregon.



Autism Toolbox: Autism FAQ
Autism FAQ
Autism Toolbox
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