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
Home Health Care in Taunton MA: Improving Mobility

Helping Your Parent’s Mobility At Home

One of the key factors for your parent to continue to stay at home during her golden years is the ability for her to still function and live in and enjoy her home.

While she may have lived in her home for decades, it’s likely things have changed for her physically, making it necessary for adjustments to be made around the home to help her continue to live as independently as possible. If you haven’t already, take some time with your parent at home to review areas of the home that have either become difficult for her to use or access or might cause injuries if they’re not updated.


Home Health Care in Taunton MA: Improving Mobility
Home Health Care in Taunton MA: Improving Mobility



Stairs are one of the most common areas where people slip and fall. If your parent’s home has multiple levels (or even a step or two from the garage to the door connecting the house) each of these stairways should be reviewed to make sure they’re safe for your parent. If you don’t have railings yet at EVERY staircase, that will be the first thing you want to install. If there are railings, give them a good yank to make sure they’re still firmly secured. If your parent slips and needs to grab ahold of a railing to prevent her from falling down the stairs, you want to make sure that railing will stay in place. Next check the lighting in each stairwell. A brightly lit stairwell will help your parent see the steps before her. Finally, check the stairs themselves. Adding non-skid flooring to the stairs might make them easier and safer for your parent to use.



Getting in and out of slick tubs and showers can be tricky for someone who struggles with balance issues or quick reactions. From installing shower bars to having a shower seat in the actual tub area may make it easier for your parent to get in and out of the tub. Also, applying non-skid stickers on the bottom of a tub may also help prevent a foot from slipping out from under your parent. Don’t forget to also review the toilet seat area. Sometimes getting up from sitting or reclining into a seated position is difficult for those with weak knees or a bad back. It may not hurt to put a railing next to the toilet as well.



If your parent still stores items on top cabinet shelves or high up in the back of her closet, you’ll want to make sure that common everyday necessities are not too high for her to reach. Climbing up on chairs or even footstools to reach for items that are higher than her head, can increase the chance of falling or dropping something either on herself or the floor. Put commonly used objects within reach of your parent, and only store items high up that she can request help with from her elder care provider to get when she needs them.

There will be many areas of your parent’s home you’ll want to review and see if you can make adjustments so that she can still live and enjoy her home. While you can make physical changes to some areas to help her, don’t forget, you can also set up people to assist her with some home tasks that may get to be too difficult or dangerous for her to do. A loving caregiver like yourself or a well-trained and caring elder care provider can help fill the gaps where your parent needs the most help.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring a Home Health Care in Taunton, 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.

Elder Care in Taunton MA: Baking

Making Cookies When There’s No Flour

It’s been more than six weeks since some started following stay-at-home recommendations. During that time, people have caught up on TV shows and movies played games, tried new hobbies, and read plenty of books. Baking is another activity that’s kept families busy.


Elder Care in Taunton MA: Baking
Elder Care in Taunton MA: Baking


With so many people trying their hand at making homemade bread and mastering sourdough, flour has been in short supply in areas. Your parents love passing the time by baking goodies, but they’re out of flour. What kinds of cookies can you make without flour?


Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are one of the easiest cookies to make without flour. You need a cup of peanut butter, a cup of sugar, and one egg. That’s it.

Mix those three ingredients together and use a teaspoon or cookie scoop to put portions of the dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

You don’t need flour for soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies. Mix a cup of almond butter with ½ cup of brown sugar and an egg. Stir in ½ teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mix that until smooth and add ¾ cups of bittersweet chocolate chips.

Drop that dough by teaspoons or a small cookie scoop onto a baking sheet. Bake at 325 F for 10 to 15 minutes.



Egg whites replace the flour in meringues. Use liquid egg whites as it’s easier than separating eggs and figuring out what to do with the yolks.

Whip four egg whites or the equivalent in liquid egg white with ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Slowly add a cup of sugar. Finish with a teaspoon of a favorite flavoring extract like almond, lemon, or vanilla.

Spoon the mixture into a freezer bag and seal. Cut one of the bottom corners off so that the opening is about an inch wide. Pipe the egg white mixture into 12 portions onto a baking sheet that’s been lined with non-stick foil or parchment paper. Bake at 225 F for two hours.


Could Senior Care Help You?

While the number of new COVID-19 cases has lowered in some areas. The virus is still out there. If you become ill, you cannot go to your parents and hope a mask or gloves will keep them from getting it. If you’re sick, stay home.


Your parents may need help each day. Senior care is a good alternative. Have caregivers help them with activities of daily living as often as they need. When you’re healthy again, call the senior care agency and drop services that you’re going to take over again. Who knows. Your parents may like having the additional caregiver and decide to partner, with your assistance, with the help of a caregiver.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Elder Care in Taunton, 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 Taunton MA: Pre-Winter Senior Home Checks

It’s the Perfect Time to Perform Pre-Winter Checks of Your Parents’ Home

As fall weather approaches, the time comes to focus on pre-winter preparations. Now is the time to start storing outdoor furniture, closing pools, and clearing gardens. It’s also time to do the pre-winter checks of your parents’ home. Make sure you don’t overlook anything.


Caregiver in Taunton MA: Pre-Winter Senior Home Checks
Caregiver in Taunton MA: Pre-Winter Senior Home Checks


Heating System Inspection and Cleaning

Your parents heating system needs to be inspected and cleaned once a year. Even if their fuel company says they can skip a yearly cleaning, they need to have it inspected for cracks and issues that may cause problems with carbon monoxide or fuel leaks.

If they have and use a wood stove or fireplace, they need to have their chimney cleaned and inspected, too. Pellet stove owners also need to fully clean the system and vent pipes to ensure the pellet stove works correctly and doesn’t pose a fire risk. If your parents have a gas fireplace, they should also have that inspected.


Test Smoke, Fire, and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide alarms all need to be tested and checked. Remove them from the wall or ceiling and check the expiration date on the back. Make sure the detector is still valid. If it’s not, replace it.

They should also look for recalled detectors. In July 2019, Universal smoke and fire alarms with a date code between 2015JAN19 and 2016JUL11 were recalled. Kidde recalled more than 450,000 detectors in 2018. The Kidde detectors include models PI2010 and PI9010. Honeywell has also had a recall of 22,000 detectors.

Test the alarms in the home by pressing the test button. If they don’t work, replace the battery and check again. If they still don’t work, replace them.

Some smoke detectors sense smoke and set off the alarm, others are set off by heat. Ideally, your parent should have both types throughout their home.


Inspect Window and Door Frames and Sills

Check all windows and door frames for any gaps that will let cold air into your parents’ home. Caulking can help close up gaps. If the weatherstripping looks worn, it’s time to replace it. You should also check the patio door for air leaks.

For older windows, it may be beneficial to purchase window insulation film for the winter. This clear plastic sheeting goes over a window or patio door. Using a hairdryer, the plastic shrinks to create a firm barrier that keeps cold air out while allowing the sun in.


Winters can be long and lonely. Being stuck inside because of cold temperatures, snow, and ice isolates some seniors. Don’t let that happen to your mom and dad. Arrange to have caregivers stop by and offer companionship visits and transportation services. Call an agency to schedule caregivers now.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring a Caregiver in Taunton, 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.