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Autism & Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

People with autism experience social deficits, communication problems and have repetitive or resticted behaviors, with an onset in at least one area by age 3. It may or may not be associated with language delays or intellectual disability. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions of people worldwide are affected by autism. While there is no medical test to diagnose autism, a diagnosis is based on observed behavior, educational and psychological testing. Get more information on autism and autism spectrum disorders.

Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. The majority of children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate intellectual disability. It occurs in approximately one in every 800 live births, making it the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder. Although individuals with Down syndrome have distinct physical characteristics, generally they are more similar to the average person in the community than they are different. Get more information on Down syndrome.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

FASD describes the broad spectrum of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. FASD can cause physical and mental disabilities of varying levels of severity (including intellectual disability). The good news is FAS is not hereditary and can only occur if a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy. There is no cure for this condition and it does not appear to get better with age. However, early identification can help children receive services that maximize their potential. Get more information on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Intellectual Disability

People with intellectual disability generally have a lessened mental capability which affects their ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience. Studies show that somewhere between 1% and 3% of Americans have intellectual disability. There are many causes of intellectual disability that include physical, genetic and/or social factors. The most common syndromes associated with intellectual disability are autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Get more information on intellectual disability.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)/Abusive Head Trauma (AHT)

Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) or Abusive Head Truama (AHT) is caused by vigorous shaking of an infant or young child by the arms, legs, chest or shoulders that can lead to brain damage, intellectual disability, speech and learning disabilities, paralysis, seizures, hearing loss and even death. One in four babies die as a result of this abuse, making it the most common cause of mortality and accounts for the most long-term disability in infants and young children due to physical abuse. Get more information on shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma.

Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form in vital organs, primarily the brain, eyes, heart, kidney, liver, skin and lungs.  TSC is a highly variable disease.  Some people with TSC live independent, healthy lives and enjoy challenging professions such as doctors, lawyers, educators and researchers.  Others with the disease often experience uncontrollable seizures, autism, heart disease, learning and behavioral problems, facial disfigurement, kidney failure and, sometimes, even death.  Approximately 80 percent of those with TSC develop kidney lesions.  In addition, TSC is the leading genetic cause of both autism spectrum disorder and epilepsy. Up to 50 percent of people with TSC develop autism, while about 85 percent experience seizures at some point during their lives.  Currently there is no cure.  Nearly 1 million people worldwide are known to have TSC, with approximately 50,000 in the United States.  At least two children born each day in the United States will have TSC.  While some cases go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed due to the obscurity of the disease or mild form symptoms may take in some people, TSC is as common as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) or cystic fibrosis.