April is Autism Awareness Month. The group Autism Speaks says this developmental disability affects one in every 88 children. Autism spectrum disorder is a range of neurodevelopment disorders. It's characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive behavior. It has no medical detection or cure.
"Children with autism are all around." Sarah Case-Price is the assistant director of the Children's Center at the University of Southern Mississippi. She's also a speech pathologist and works with multiple autistic children. Autism spectrum disorder affects everyone differently from mild to severe.
"Every child with autism has a different strength and that is our goal at the children's center is to find that strength and use that strength to teach them to learn."
Occupational, physical and behavioral therapists work with these children each day to help develop social skills. "We set up structured play settings so that they can learn how to play with their peers," says Cash-Price.
According to the group Autism Speaks those with the disability have trouble communicating with others. "They either don't use language in a social context correctly or they don't have the intent to communicate," says Missy Schraeder is the professional development coordinator at the Dubard School. Not all of their students are autistic but it's a school focused on speech and language disorders. "We work on developing those language skills."
Schraeder says those with autism have repetitive behaviors or the inability to make eye contact with someone else. Parents with autistic children are urged to really communicate with their child to strengthen language skills. "Talk to your children, read to your children," Schraeder.
"There is hope for all these children," encourgaes Case-Price.
According to Autism Speaks significant improvement in autism symptoms is most often reported with intensive early intervention.