Autism is classified as a pervasive developmental disorder that typically can be observed within a child’s first three years of life. Individuals with autism can display a combination of characteristics such as impairment of social skills, impairment of language and communication and/or restricted range of interests and rigidity of routines.
Individuals with autism may engage in behavior that is different than that of neuro-typically developing individuals, but they are similar in many ways. Individuals with autism can learn many skills that address the impairments that they have. With individualized education focusing on the specific needs of each child, adolescent, and young adult, some individuals with autism can learn to live lives that require minimal support.
Autism Facts & Figures
Below are some relevant facts about autism that are offered to help understand how autism affects the population. Please refer to our Autism Resource Center to find more information about autism, and how you can help.
- The most recent reports show that autism affects 1 in 50 children born in the United States
- New Jersey has the highest prevalence rate of autism affecting 1 in 49 children and 1 in 29 boys
- Autism prevalence figures continue to rise and these numbers are only partially explained by better diagnosis
- Autism affects more children than diabetes, aids, cancer, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, or down syndrome combined.
- Funding for autism research is less than 5% of other less prevalent childhood diseases
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism
- The most effective and scientifically validated methods to educate individuals with autism are based on the principles of applied behavior analysis.
Applied Behavior Analysis
When used to educate individuals with autism, applied behavior analysis (ABA) can be described as the application of the science of behavior to effect meaningful changes to the educational, social, and personal lives of the individuals being served.
Procedures based on the principles of ABA use reinforcement to teach new skills to individuals with autism. Years of research have shown that behavior that is followed by a desired consequence (reinforcement) is more likely to occur again. Using that information, procedures within applied behavior analysis utilize reinforcement to teach new skills and increase pro-social behavior and withhold reinforcement for disruptive behavior and responding that is incompatible with the targeted skills. Those targeted skills are often broken down into smaller component parts that are each taught until they are mastered and then combined. The emphasis on the smaller components of the skill helps to create a solid foundation for the completion of not only the targeted task, but other similar tasks that the learner will eventually complete. Data are recorded on each component of the skill to monitor progress and make objective decisions regarding programming.