ANNAPOLIS, Md. ( WDVM) — Following up on a 2011 state commission on autism, sponsors of a bill to help families dealing with the disorder today proposed a state-level coordinator of autism strategy.
Symptoms, typically detected by the age of three, include difficulty with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behavior patterns which can include motor and sensory impairment seizures and immunological abnormalities.
The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Michele Guyton from Baltimore County, is herself the parent of a child with autism.
The coordinator would be appointed the governor and work with a stakeholder advisory group and the state Department of Disabilities.
“Maryland is unprepared to face the challenges of a growing population of citizens with autism who strive to live independent, productive and fulfilling lives,” says Guyton.
According to “Autism risk factors: genes, environment, and gene-environment interactions” by Dr. Pauline Chaste, the developmental disorder is characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication in the first three years of a child’s life. It is associated with genetic and environmental factors and pregnancy risks tied to alcohol and drug use and toxins from pesticides and lead. Autism affects information processing in the brain and the connection of nerve cells. Early behavioral interventions include speech therapy. The disorder occurs four to five times more in males than females.