Hopefully all of our "class" business is complete and we can get a little more into the actual subject of autism! This is going to be your introduction to autism and then we will discuss the topic further on Tuesday in class before Mrs. Kleinheksel comes in to speak on Occupational Therapy (OT).
As many of you found out from the Autism Speaks website, autism has become a lot more prevalent over the past 10 years or so. This chart from Autism Speaks shows just how much the numbers have jumped:
The 16% for social influences is also very interesting. This means that because the public (people like your parents or even you) are becoming more aware of autism and have come in contact with someone with autism, the potential for someone else to be diagnosed is heightened. For example, lets say you have two neighbor kids. One has been diagnosed with autism. The other has always acted a bit different but does not currently have a diagnoses. Because the parent of the first child got the diagnosis, there is a greater chance that the other parent will say something like "well, my child does a lot of the same things as our neighbor friend, maybe I should get my child tested to see if they have autism too". This, then, increases the numbers of kids with autism.
The advanced age of parents is a large chunk as well. There are actually a lot of studies that say that older parents (I believe the term "older" means above the age of 40) can cause a lot of different disabilities or syndromes, such as Down Syndrome. With our improving medical science, this actually seems to be decreasing though. Or most older people are no longer trying to have kids.
Geographic clustering is also quite an interesting thing too. (I seem to find all of these statistics interesting!) For some reason certain areas of the country have more people being diagnosed with autism than other areas. There are many ideas as to why this is happening. Maybe it's an environmental issue in the area (Chemicals? Certain foods being offered? Etc.), maybe those doctors are over-diagnosing, or maybe there are just more kids being born in that area. It's hard to say. One interesting article that I read a few weeks ago stated that there are currently 4 cases of kids diagnosed with autism in the Amish community, and those 4 kids were all adopted from a different country or somewhere outside of the Amish community. So what is it that we are being exposed to that kids in the Amish community are not? Fascinating!
Regardless of all of these statistics, there has been a large influx of kids with autism. This is one of the reasons why we have started this class here at JJHS! Within our school district alone, we have 68 students with their primary disability being autism. That's a lot! This is a growing population that eventually will need jobs, places to live, and things to do. Guess who will be working with them, living near them and hanging out with them? You! If we can better train you how to help our students with autism, not only will it help you to understand them in the long-run, but it will also help you to work with and help them! You are (or will be) learning skills that will help a lot of people throughout your whole life.
For your homework please watch the following video. This will give you a lot of great information on what signs parents need to look for if they think their child might have autism. Your other homework assignments are listed under "homework".
Have a wonderful week!