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Experts estimate that 1 out of 150 children in America will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a complex developmental disability and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills, according to the Autism Society of America.

Children with autism are typically diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3 years old, but in some cases, children as young as 18 months can develop signs of the developmental disability. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls, according to the National Autism Association.

Signs of autism include:

An inability to communicate.

Little or no interest in playing with toys.

Laughing or crying for no reason.

Showing no emotion during emotional situations.

There is no cure for autism, but organizations like the South Plains Autism Network (SPAN) and the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research are helping West Texas families and Texas Tech students overcome the challenges of living with the disorder.

SPAN is a support group of parents, caregivers, physicians, therapists and teachers who have autism and/or work with children who have autism. The group meets each month during the school year.

At the Burkhart Center, Tech students who have autism may attend educational workshops, take advantage of support services, receive job coaching and participate in social groups and life-skills programs. For more information about autism resources at Tech, visit www.burkhartcenter.org or http://www.educ.ttu.edu/EDSP/burkhartproject/span.php.