It is unclear exactly how many children in the world have autism. In most cases, symptoms present themselves in the first few years of life, noticed by parents who realize their children are not responding to visual or auditory cues as other children would. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the number of diagnoses is steadily increasing, but it is difficult to tell whether the disorder itself is becoming more prevalent or if the ability to identify it has increased since the 80s and 90s. In addition, autism includes more than it used to, accounting for a greater number of people with various forms of autism.
Communication can be difficult with a child afflicted with autism; learning social cues can be delayed or misunderstood. Words and language are difficult to learn and attach meanings to actual objects. In addition, body language can be very difficult to interpret. This will lead later in life to a difficulty in cultivating and keeping up friendships.
Children who have autism tend to have some level of behavioral issues. These can manifest in repeated unconscious behaviors—rocking back and forth, clapping, hand movements and gestures—or in the desire to keep routines the same. If certain routines are interrupted or modified, they can become extremely upset.
There is no cure for autism. Treatments usually include therapy for coping and practice learning social skills. Applied behavior analysis can focus on specifically teaching the skills that non-autistic children pick up naturally. In some cases, children can learn these skills to allow similar levels of functionality. The more quickly these basic skills can be mastered, the more quickly children can get on to better understanding their education and surroundings. Medicine is prescribed only to help with some of the symptoms of autism, but not to affect the disorder itself. Again, the idea is to restore as much functionality to the child as possible as early as possible until learning of higher ideals and concepts are integrated.
Several organizations support the effort to search for cures, advanced treatments, and health resources by raising funds. Some spread the word and ask for donations. Some interesting sites also produce special memorabilia to celebrate the lives of those afflicted with autism. These autism products allow patients, friends, and family members the power to show their acceptance and perseverance throughout the potentially difficult lives they may live due to autism.