Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is identified by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) as: "a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges." A leading non-profit organization, Autism Speaks, defines Autism and ASD as "complex disorders of brain development".
2. Who has Autism?
According to the most recent CDC statistics, about 1 in 68 American children are on the autism spectrum -- ten times the number of children diagnosed with Autism forty years ago. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with Autism. This number does not include the number of adults diagnosed on the spectrum or the number of 21-year olds with Autism, who, each year, become technically defined as adults. It is estimated that more than two million people in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide have Autism. In Massachusetts alone, there are an estimated 98,000 autistic individuals.
3. What is the cause of Autism?
Although improved diagnosis is one reason cited for the dramatically increased prevalence of recognized cases of Autism, no cause has yet been established for the increase.
4. What accomplishments are possible for those with Autism?
The current terminology for the afflictions of those suffering from ASD is a "spectrum" because the range of potential of those diagnosed is so sweeping and so individual. Some have difficulties in coordination and attention. Others who suffer from Asperger syndrome have advanced, specific intellectual skills but have trouble relating to others. Many excel in music, math, or art. Others have no verbal communication at all. F.O.R.W.A.R.D. is committed to each individual's right to fulfill his or her potential.
5. What do I do if I suspect my child has Autism?
Contact your doctor or inquire into your town or state's screening services. Early intervention for a child displaying autistic tendencies (not interacting, not communicating, disengaged) has proven highly advantageous.
6. How can I help?
Due to the veritable tidal wave of children now reaching the age of 21, when schooling is no longer publicly mandated and financed by our states and towns, 80 % of adults with Autism live at home. Families across the country face the crisis of having to work full time to afford the extra costs of a special needs young adult while at the same time needing to be home or to pay for the care of that same young adult. Work programs, volunteer opportunities, transportation, and home care are all needed. Specifically, F.O.R.W.A.R.D. is looking for financial and program support for our model of a 'round the clock' supervised group living situation.
7. How can each community help and benefit?
It is time to realize and embrace the differences of our friends, neighbors, and community members on the autism spectrum. Many of these individuals can become purposeful, loving members of society with a "little help from [their] friends." Already, an organization such as Capeabilities is proving this point through their wonderful farm stand and day programs.
The benefit to those who work and interact with these polite, enthusiastic young adults is tangible. No community can afford to lose opportunities to support and encourage families with special needs children who need a wider safety net between them and financial distress or potential homelessness. Every community can benefit from supporting supervised independent living for young adults who need help.
Some Celebrities you may not know had autism...
While Albert Einstein was never officially diagnosed with autism, many researchers believe that, were he alive today, he would fall on the spectrum. Reasons for this hypothesis include his extreme intelligence, poor performance in school, and difficulties with language early in his life.
As a child, Daryl Hannah experienced intense bouts of shyness and was subsequently diagnosed with autism. Hannah does not enjoy being the center of attention and often avoids interviews and movie premieres.
James Durbin was the fourth place finalist in the 10th season of American Idol. During his time on the show, Durbin was quite open about his experiences with Asperger's syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism) and Tourettes.
As a child, Dan Aykroyd was diagnosed with both Asperger's syndrome and Tourettes. The actor, writer, and musician has revealed that his intense, childhood interest in ghosts and policemen were the inspiration for the film Ghostbusters.
When Stanley Kubrick was born in the 1920s, autism as we know it today did not yet exist. However, researchers believe that the world-famous director may have had the condition, due to his intense interests, literal thinking, and lack of social skills.
While Britain's Got Talent breakout star Susan Boyle was not diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome until late in life, she said she was relieved to finally have an explanation for some of the difficulties she had faced.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Autism as a diagnosis did not exist during Mozart's lifetime. However, it is known that he was prone to sensitivity, mood swings, and repetitive facial expressions, which has led some people to believe that he fell somewhere on the spectrum.