According to the CDC, one out of every 68 children in the U.S is born with autism. That’s a thirty percent increase from last year. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects people in varying degrees, from high-functioning folks who are verbal and often excel in areas like music, math and art, while less-functional ASD patients may harm themselves or have difficulty doing everyday tasks.
Scientists don’t fully understand what causes autism, but they are beginning to gain a better idea of its roots. Research shows that autism is tied to early brain development. In other cases, researchers identified environmental factors like a genetic predisposition to autism, which affects early brain development. The age of the parent, illness during conception and/or pregnancy, and lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during pregnancy (or other difficulties during pregnancy) are all risk factors.
With an increased number of children affected, more parents are searching for treatment, most notably parents with self-harming, nonsocial, nonverbal autistic children—children like Kalel Santiago. According to Dr. Giovanni Martinez, a clinical psychologist in Puerto Rico, Kalel couldn’t speak at all