The month of April is autism awareness month, a time when families with autistic children or other family members, as well as people not directly affected by the disorder, can take some time to educate themselves about this very common disability.
Autism affects every race, gender, social economic group, and ethnicity. It’s estimated that one out of every 88 children has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and that boys are five times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.
A lot of people don’t realize that autism is not a single disease, but a group of medical conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies autism into one of three different conditions known collectively as autism spectrum disorders, or ASDs. These three include classic autism, also called Autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder—not otherwise specified, also called PDD–NOS or atypical autism.
People with autism display different symptoms and conditions. Those with the most severe form of autism, classic autism, will have cognitive and intellectual disabilities, as well as have great difficulty with communication and socialization. Those with Asperger’s syndrome do not have intellectual disabilities, but will have some difficulty with communication and socialization. Those with PDD–NOS have the mildest form of autism and, though they may have difficulty communicating or socializing.
Parents who have children with autism can help themselves by consulting with a qualified estate planning attorney to develop a special needs plan. A special needs plan will help you protect your child by taking advantage of all available laws and programs at both the state and federal level.