Today, one out of every 68 children born in the U.S. will be diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder. The prevalence of autism has increased dramatically in recent decades, yet much about the disorder remains a mystery. Medical researchers and doctors still don't know what causes autism and many parents struggle to access and provide a child who’s been diagnosed with the recommended medical care and therapies.
Autism is known as a spectrum disorder meaning there is great variance in symptoms and severity among those diagnosed with autism. For example, some individuals with autism are extremely high functioning and have IQs qualifying them as geniuses whereas others diagnosed with autism may have severe cognitive deficiencies. There are, however, basic components that are shared by all diagnosed with the disorder including "difficulties in social interaction, verbal or nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors."
Early diagnosis of autism is important to ensure a child is able to access and receive the help he or she needs to progress. Members of the U.S. Senate recently took steps to ensure that funding for vital autism-related research and programs will continue to be available until at least 2020. With the passage and approval of what's known as the Autism CARES bill, Congress has authorized five years of annual federal funding of $260 million for autism research and services.
These federal dollars are vital in helping fund research aimed to identify the potential causes of autism as well as to provide for early identification and tracking of autism cases. Without the funding for these key research components, vital information that may hold the key to unlocking the many mysteries that surround the disorder would not be collected or analyzed.
When a child is diagnosed as having autism, parents often struggle to ensure he or she is able to take part in numerous recommended therapies and programs. In many cases, one parent is forced to cut work hours or stop working. For these families, Social Security disability benefits can provide monthly income and help ease financial burdens thereby allowing a family to focus on providing the care and support their child needs.