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April is World Autism Month and today, April 2, marks the 17th annual World Autism Awareness Day.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control CDC, autism affects an estimated 1 in 36 children and 1 in 45 adults in the United States today. People with autism may have difficulty communicating and interacting with others. Those with autism may have delayed language and may have restricted and repetitive behavior.

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On average, autism is diagnosed around age 5 in the U.S., with signs appearing by age 2 or 3. 

According to the CDC, autism prevalence among American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) children is 26.5 out of 1,000. While this number is comparatively similar to white children, a study by the University of Minnesota found American Indian and Alaska Native children with autism are 13 percent less likely to be diagnosed.

On Monday, the White House published President Joe Biden’s proclamation recognizing April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in the United States. In his proclamation, President Biden said some 5.4 million American adults have been diagnosed with autism. 

In addition, the presidential proclamation said:

"Their experiences with the condition vary widely, but their talents and potential are too often misunderstood or overlooked.  Autistic people routinely face unnecessary obstacles to securing employment and health care and children face bullying and barriers to education. 

Early diagnosis can make a big difference, which is why my Administration is funding groundbreaking research to boost access to diagnoses and services that can help autistic people of all ages thrive.  The Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services are also working to ensure that young children with disabilities, including autism, have access to high-quality, inclusive early childhood programs so that they can thrive as well as helping schools leverage Medicaid to deliver critical health care services."

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from the American Dental Association. This grant funding and sponsorship support have no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online. 
About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].