April is Autism Awareness Month and the Center for Disabilities, home to the first Autism Spectrum Disorders program in the state, is using the workshop to bring awareness to autism and the impact it has on communities. Autism, a complex neurobiological disorder, impacts a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others in socially expected ways. Accompanying behaviors may include self injurious behaviors, repetitive stereotypic hand movements, or fixed inflexible adherence to specific non-functional routines. This disorder, which impacts boys four times more often than girls, has no known cause or cure.

“In the late 1980s, autism was a generally unknown and perplexing disorder diagnosed in one in 10,000 children,” said Amanda Keating, PsyD., director of Autism Spectrum Disorders Program Center for Disabilities at the USD Sanford School of Medicine. “Current studies funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate the prevalence rates could be as high as 1 in 80 children. Autism Spectrum Disorders are the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States.”

Established in 1989 through the grassroots efforts of parents and professionals, USD’s Autism Spectrum Disorders program provides training, technical assistance, clinical services, and resource and referral assistance to the state of South Dakota. The goals of the program are to provide expertise and support to people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), family members of people with an ASD, and professionals working with people with an ASD. ASDs include: Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett’s Syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).

For more information about the workshop please visit www.usd.edu/cd/spring-autism-conference.cfm or contact the Center for Disabilities at (605) 357-1439. To learn more about ASD, including common signs that may indicate a child should be evaluated for an autism spectrum disorder, call 1-800-658-3080 or visit the Center’s Web site at www.usd.edu/cd.

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