April Is Autism Awareness Month

Every day millions of Americans living with autism face significant struggles that many of us know nothing about. The month of April is designated to increasing understanding and knowledge about autism and improving the lives of individuals who are living with the disorder. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the United States, and it is estimated that it affects 1 in 68 children. Research also shows that boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to develop some form of the disorder.

Autism varies in both character and severity. The overarching diagnosis is called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is a range of neurodevelopment disorders that are characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties and restricted, repetitive behavior. Autistic disorder or autism is the more severe form of ASD. Other forms of ASD include Asperger syndrome, a form that is considered to be on the “high-functioning” side of the spectrum, and childhood disintegrative disorder, where a child will develop normally until two or three years old and then start to demonstrate loss of skills (such as speech and social interactions).

The hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction. If you are an adult and you suffer from autism you may have significant difficulties obtaining or maintaining employment. If you are having difficulties working, you should consider applying for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.

Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the following criteria to evaluate autistic disorders:

  1. Deficits in social interaction
  2. Deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication
  3. Restrictions of activities and interests
  4. Restrictions of activities in daily living
  5. Difficulties maintaining social functioning
  6. Difficulties maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace
  7. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration

Autism appears to have its roots in early brain development, but symptoms tend to show between ages 2 and 3. Both children and adults who are autistic may qualify for SSD benefits.

  • Children under 18 can qualify by applying for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program based on their needs and financial resources. Their family’s monthly income and assets must not exceed the SSI limits, approximately $3,000.
  • Adults can apply for both SSD and SSI benefits. The disability insurance program is based on your work history and the taxes you have paid into the system. If you haven’t worked or paid taxes,  you will not qualify for SSDI.

Bottom line, if you or a loved one suffers from autism, no matter the age, you should consider applying for Social Security benefits.

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