Although autism was first officially identified in the 1980s, symptoms of the disorder have occurred throughout history. Now, as more becomes known about autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome, more children are being accurately diagnosed and treated. Today, as many as three to six out of every 1,000 children are diagnosed with autism in the United States. As adults, many of these individuals are unable to lead normal lives and require ongoing treatment, but others are able to function normally within society.
What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects a child’s ability to communicate and interact in social situations. Classic autism is just one disorder in a range of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), and more disorders are being identified and classified as research continues. Many people with autism also experience mental retardation, but many do not.
No two autistic individuals will display exactly the same symptoms, and the severity of symptoms varies from one person to the next. In general, autism is marked by difficulties with language and social interaction. People with autism often have a hard time picking up social cues and may react inappropriately to events. They often shy away from physical affection, and they usually do not engage in imaginative play as children. Some autistic people also engage in repetitive or self-harming behaviors as a reaction to stress.
The exact causes of autism are unknown. It is currently believed to be a neurological disorder caused by certain brain abnormalities that affect the way information is gathered and stored by the autistic person. Specifically, autistic people are easily overloaded by sensory information, and this sensitivity can cause pain and distress that develops into the more visible symptoms of the syndrome.
What is Asperger’s?
Asperger’s syndrome is a disorder in the autistic spectrum. It’s generally considered to be more mild than classic autism. People with Asperger’s syndrome usually do not have problems with language development, and they may seem to act and function normally most of the time. They do, however, continue to have difficulties with social cues and empathy, and they may have a hard time communicating with other people.
Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome might avoid eye contact, misunderstand gestures and expressions, or take things in a very literal way. People with Asperger’s syndrome may also tend to fixate on certain details and topics or engage in compulsive behaviors.
Can You Get Social Security for Autism or Asperger’s?
Although therapies and drug treatments can help reduce symptoms, people with autism may find that they cannot function in society. The autism does not have to be severe for this to be the case. Even high-functioning autistic people or individuals with Asperger’s syndrome may have a difficult time working due to their awkward social skills. Many adults with autistic spectrum disorders also develop anxiety and depression, which can also make working difficult.
Autism spectrum disorders can qualify as disabilities if they cause serious limitations on a person’s cognitive, social or personal functioning. Low-income families with autistic children can qualify for SSI, and autistic adults who make under $1,010 per month can obtain SSI benefits as well.
Getting Disability Benefits for Autism
Many people with severe autism stay in special facilities or within the care of their parents as adults. Others are able to live on their own but may require assistance, and some people with Asperger’s or high-functioning autism might lead relatively normal lives. Each person is different, and no single course of treatment or long-term lifestyle will fit everyone who has been diagnosed with this syndrome.
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