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Autism's origins remain a mystery

Autism is perhaps one of the most baffling of all developmental disorders. Today, the complex neurological disorder affects an estimated 1 in every 68 children born in the U.S., yet medical researchers and scientists know surprisingly very little about how and why autism develops or how to treat common symptoms associated with the disorder.

Autism is considered a spectrum disorder meaning that the existence of symptoms and their severity vary greatly from one individual to another. Some individuals with autism are extremely high functioning and have normal to above-average IQs, whereas individuals on the lower end of the spectrum may have delayed cognitive abilities and lack the ability to verbally communicate. All individuals with autism share certain deficiencies related to their ability to communicate and socially interact. A large percentage of autistic individuals also display some degree of repetitive or ritualistic behaviors. 

Early diagnosis of autism is critical to helping a child develop skills and effective coping strategies. A number of therapies have also been proven effective in helping an individual progress and reach his or her potential. The prevalence of and growth in the number of autism cases within the last 20 years is alarming and boys are four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

Due to financial restrictions, many families with an autistic child struggle to gain access to or provide a child with the recommended treatments and therapies. For these families, Social Security disability benefits can aid in helping provide much-needed monthly income that can be used to assist in ensuring a child receives the help he or she needs to progress and succeed.

Source: National Autism Association, "Autism Fact Sheet," 2014

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