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What is Autism?

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most common developmental disabilities in the world. Current reports state that ASD affects approximately 1 out of every 100 children. Boys are diagnosed with ASD four times more often than girls. Its prevalence rate makes it the second most common developmental disability - even more common than Down Syndrome. It is a lifelong disability with no known cure at this time. The symptoms of autism tend to appear very early in life, usually within the first three years. In general, these include:

  • Significant problems in language development
  • Significant problems with understanding and engaging in social interactions
  • Inconsistent sensory response patterns - for instance, periods when hearing appears to function normally and periods of apparent deafness
  • Uneven pattern of intellectual development
  • Significant, highly-focused restriction of interests and activities.

The symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a variety of combinations and with a range of severity from mild to severe. Thus two children with the same diagnosis of autism can act very differently from one another and have very different skills, abilities and functioning levels.

The cause of autism is yet to be proven. However, early intervention and education play a significant role in the development of an individual’s maximum potential. If you are concerned that your child or someone you know is exhibiting signs of ASD, and live in the New York City area, please contact Piero Pelaez, Education Department, 212-616-1857 or via email at Piero.Pelaez@birchfamilyservices.org.

Birch’s Autism Program

We have over 35 years of experience providing educational, residential, facilitative and family support services for children and adults with autism and PDD. We offer special education and clinical services for children from three through 21 years; Medicaid Service Coordination and family support to individuals of all ages and their families; Day Habilitation to individuals who have aged out of educational services; residential services to those who cannot live at home and Community Habilitation services for those living with their families.

Our work is based on current state of knowledge and the work of leading experts in the field of autism. Our approach is based on Structuring the Education of Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder, incorporating structured teaching, individualized instruction, and a focus on communication and socialization.

Autism Child