Autism is a developmental disability that can severely impair a child’s ability to communicate, understand language, play and relate to others. It is more common than most people realize, occurring in approximately 1 in 88 births-which means there are more than 1.5 million Americans may have some form of autism.
Autism can affect different people to extremely varying degrees. Some individuals who have the disorder have profound mental retardation; others are extraordinarily bright. Some people with autism never learn to speak; others have extensive vocabularies, but struggle with learning how to communicate appropriately with others. While some people with autism are able to live independently and hold down meaningful jobs, even develop accomplished careers, others remain dependent on their families and institutions throughout their lives.
Unraveling the Mystery of Autism
No one needs to tell the doctors, researchers, or therapists at Kennedy Krieger that autism figures are growing at an alarming rate – that current statistics predict one out of every 88 children is destined to develop the disorder. We are well aware of the toll that autism takes on a family’s life, and we are constantly looking for answers to the many questions surrounding this puzzling disorder.
Already, our work has led to revolutionary changes in the diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of autism spectrum disorders:
- www.IANProject.org —In partnership with Autism Speaks, the Institute launched the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), an innovative online initiative designed to accelerate the pace of autism research. From the comfort of their homes, families can provide researchers with critically needed information. IAN also matches families with research studies in their area.
- Autism Treatment Network —The Institute became one of 15 centers that are a part of the Autism Treatment Network, a group of hospitals and medical centers nationwide working to improve the quality and accessibility of health care for children with autism spectrum disorders.
- “Fever Effect” Study —In the journal Pediatrics, the Institute published research confirming that the behavior of children with autism spectrum disorders can actually improve with fever. Understanding this “fever effect” may provide valuable insight into the neurological basis of autism spectrum disorders.
These are just a few of the efforts that are making such an important difference in the lives of families of children with autism spectrum disorders.