Autism Prevalence, Challenges, and Supports: Understanding the Complexities of this Neurodevelopmental Disorder

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is estimated that 1 in 36 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to 2020 data reported by the CDC. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

Although autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 2, most children are still being diagnosed after age 4. This highlights the importance of early intervention, which has been shown to improve learning, communication, and social skills, as well as underlying brain development. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) and therapies based on its principles are the most researched and commonly used behavioral interventions for autism. Many children affected by autism also benefit from other interventions such as speech and occupational therapy.

While autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often. This delay in diagnosis can affect access to appropriate interventions and supports. Therefore, it is essential to raise awareness and understanding of autism in all communities to ensure timely diagnosis and access to services.

The causes of autism are not fully understood, but research indicates that genetics are involved in the vast majority of cases. Children born to older parents are at a higher risk for having autism, and parents who have a child with ASD have a 2 to 18 percent chance of having a second child who is also affected. Studies have also shown that among identical twins, if one child has autism, the other will be affected about 36 to 95 percent of the time. In non-identical twins, if one child has autism, then the other is affected about 31 percent of the time.

Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: vaccines do not cause autism.

Autism can also be associated with a range of medical and mental health conditions. For instance, as many as one-third of people with autism have epilepsy, and more than half of children with autism have one or more chronic sleep problems. Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 11 to 40 percent of children and teens on the autism spectrum, and depression affects an estimated 7% of children and 26% of adults with autism.

Autism is also associated with challenges in daily function, such as developmental regression, where the child loses previously acquired skills, and wandering or bolting, which affects nearly half of those with autism. Nearly two-thirds of children with autism between the ages of 6 and 15 have been bullied, and nearly 28 percent of 8-year-olds with ASD have self-injurious behaviors such as head banging, arm biting, and skin scratching.

Caregivers and families of individuals with autism face significant challenges as well. On average, autism costs an estimated $60,000 a year through childhood, with the bulk of the costs in special services and lost wages related to increased demands on one or both parents. Mothers of children with ASD, who tend to serve as the child’s case manager and advocate, are less likely to work outside the home and earn significantly less than mothers of children with no health limitations or other disabilities.

In adulthood, many young adults with autism face significant challenges in finding employment and accessing healthcare transition services. More than half of young adults with autism remain unemployed and unenrolled in higher education in the two years after high school. Furthermore, the cost of caring for Americans with autism had reached $268 billion in 2015 and would rise to $461 billion by 2025 in the absence of more-effective interventions and support across the life span.

In conclusion, autism is a significant public health concern that affects many individuals and families.

A New Year’s resolution list can help caregivers make positive changes.

We either love them or avoid them, but no matter what our stance on New Year’s resolutions, there is something incredibly refreshing about stepping into a whole new year, providing us with a clean slate and the chance to make any modifications we want to improve total well-being or to accomplish a brand new goal or dream.

For family caregivers, New Year’s resolution lists tend to be particularly significant, mainly because they affect not merely the caregivers themselves, but their senior loved ones. It’s important, however, to keep resolutions sensible. Resolving, for instance, to get a full eight hours of sleep each night, while caring for a family member who has problems with sundowning issues in Alzheimer’s, could be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Try instead to think about one of the following resolutions especially developed with family caregivers in mind:

  1. I shall reach out for help and support, and take assistance when offered.
  2. I give myself permission to say “no” to requests to prevent dealing with more than I am able to handle.
  3. I will make my own health (both physical and mental) a priority, making sure that I set up and keep medical-related checkups and appointments.
  4. I will remind myself that self-care is not selfish, and that by taking good care of myself, I’m able to take better care of my loved one.
  5. I will take note of my energy level, and make a plan in order to avoid allowing myself to reach the point of exhaustion, burnout, or depression.


Starting with a no-cost in-home consultation, we will listen to the particular needs and challenges of your loved one, and develop a customized plan of care to fulfill those needs, through many different services such as:

  • Help with personal hygiene, dressing, ambulation and transfers
  • Running errands, such as buying groceries and picking up prescriptions
  • Accompanied transportation to medical appointments and enjoyable outings
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Meal planning and preparation, according to any prescribed dietary plans
  • Engagement in conversations, reminiscing, games, and exercise, along with other pastimes that are of interest to the older adult
  • And many others
Elderly Care in Bridgewater MA: Bathroom Layout and Safety

Does Your Mom’s Bathroom Layout Impact Her Safety?

A bathroom’s layout determines a lot about how safe that space is.
In a small bathroom, it can be easier to trip and fall. Limited floor space increases the risk of items sticking out or cluttering the floor. In a large bathroom, the extra space may be better for having a clear walking path, but it can make it harder to have grab bars everywhere they’re needed.

For January’s National Bath Safety Month, take a look at your mom’s bathroom layout. What would make it safer?


Elderly Care in Bridgewater MA: Bathroom Layout and Safety
Elderly Care in Bridgewater MA: Bathroom Layout and Safety


Safety in a Small Bathroom

With a small bathroom, the risk of hitting your head on a toilet, sink corner, or tub wall is high. No matter which way you fall, something is in the way.

Grab bars help prevent falls by offering something supportive to fall. As there’s not a lot of wall space, consider grab bars that have a lower bar welded on at the bottom. That lower bar is meant to hold towels.

In the bathtub or shower, there’s not a lot of room for a shower seat. If your mom is unsteady on her feet while bathing, a fold-down teak shower seat is attractive. It also folds out the way when it’s not in use so others have plenty of space while bathing.


Safety in Long Bathrooms

Some bathrooms have plenty of space, but there are long aisles leading to the door. Grab bars provide support along those walkways.

Another feature of a larger bathroom is to have the toilet in a water closet. A door separates it from the rest of the bathroom. If the bathroom has a separate water closet for the toilet, is there a way for your mom to call for help if she needs it? With the second door closed, it may be hard to hear her. A smart speaker that doubles as an intercom is a good idea.

The final thing to make sure is present in a large bathroom is bright lighting. If there are only one or two lights, there may be dark corners or shadowy areas. That can increase the risk of a fall.

Is it time to have caregivers available when your mom takes her morning bath or shower? With elderly care services, your mom has someone nearby to help steady her as she steps over the bathtub wall. She has a helper to assist her in getting into the shower and settled on a shower seat. Talk to an elderly care specialist to make the arrangements.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring a Elderly Care in Bridgewater, MA, call the caring staff at Rivers of Hope today at 508-857-0629. Providing Independent, Dependent, and Companion Care Services in Brockton, Boston, Braintree, Avon Randolph, Abington, and the surrounding areas.

Caregiver in Bridgewater MA: Senior Entertainment

5 Ways Elderly Care Can Add Fun to Your Parent’s Day

How much of the day do you think your elderly parent spends sitting around watching television or doing nothing at all? In other words, do you suspect your parent is bored and not enjoying their days much? Elderly care can be the perfect solution to your parent’s boredom.


Caregiver in Bridgewater MA: Add Fun to Your Parent’s Day
Caregiver in Bridgewater MA: Add Fun to Your Parent’s Day

Below are 5 ways elderly care can add fun to your parent’s day.

#1: Lively Conversation

Elderly care providers are screened for many things, including friendly personalities with a desire to spend time helping older adults. That means your parent’s elderly care provider will genuinely enjoy having conversations with them. They bring a friendly demeanor with them each time they visit and will be willing to talk about any topic your parent enjoys. Elderly care providers can also help your parent to reminisce about their lives by asking questions to start the conversation.



#2: Board or Card Games

If your parent has a competitive streak, an elderly care provider can play board or card games with them to help pass the time. Although the provider may not know how to play every game, they are willing to learn whenever possible. So, whether it’s a classic game of scrabble or something new, if your parent likes games, an elderly care provider can offer them some friendly competition.



#3: Outings

Being stuck inside the house all the time is certainly no fun. Yet, many seniors have difficulty getting out because of physical disabilities or an inability to drive. Elderly care providers can not only offer them transportation, they can accompany them to the places they enjoy visiting, such as a museum or store.



#4: Baking

If your parent likes to bake but has some trouble doing it on their own these days, an elderly care provider can help. Elderly care providers can assist with some of the steps that might be difficult, like opening cans and jars. They can also read steps of the recipe, which could be difficult if your parent has poor vision. And, there’s no need to worry about your parent forgetting to turn the oven off or burning themselves while lifting a heavy pan. An elderly care provider can do those things for them.



#5: Crafts

Crafts are an excellent way for older adults to pass the time. When your parent makes crafts, it can give them a sense of purpose. They can make crafts to give as gifts or to donate to non-profit organizations. They could even make crafts to sell. Whatever the reason, an elderly care provider can help them by driving them to craft stores to purchase supplies, helping with the difficult steps, and simply admiring the work they produce.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring a Caregiver in Bridgewater, MA, call the caring staff at Rivers of Hope today at 508-857-0629. Providing Independent, Dependent, and Companion Care Services in Brockton, Boston, Braintree, Avon Randolph, Abington, and the surrounding areas.