About 10 years ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that one out of every 150 children will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. Today that number stands at 1 in 88, making autism spectrum disorders much more common. April is Autism Awareness Month, so let’s take the time to better understand this important disorder and how it affects people.
In families with children who have been diagnosed with an ASD, parents and family members are generally familiar with the different types of autism and have taken some steps to create a special needs plan for their autistic child. (If you have a child with autism and haven’t yet developed a special needs plan, you should take the time to call an estate planning attorney to schedule an appointment.)
Autism is not a single medical condition, but rather a range of conditions that are divided into three different categories: Autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder—not otherwise specified, or PDD-NOS.
Each disorder in the autism spectrum has its own symptoms and traits. For example, someone with classic autistic disorder will have intellectual disabilities as well as difficulty in social settings and inter-personal communication. On the other hand, someone with Asperger’s syndrome or PDD–NOS will have milder communication and socialization issues yet maintain intellectual capacity.
Of course, there are other differences between the different types of autism spectrum disorders, so you might want to take some time this month to educate yourself about this increasingly common disorder.
Special estate planning considerations are typically required for families with autistic children. The best way to approach the topic is to consult with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney.