Autism, what is it?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. Your Pediatrician can start to recognize these symptoms between 1-2 years old and should be testing for concerns. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and there is a wide spectrum as to how it impacts each child’s life.

There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.

Many of the early signs of Autism deal with difficulties with social interaction. 

The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include:

  • difficulty with communication
  • difficulty with social interactions
  • obsessive interests
  • repetitive behaviors
  • difficulty making eye contact
  • poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities (overly sensitive to the feel of clothing or texture of foods).

A person with ASD may follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others as well. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity and how they impact that child life and learning.

Autism is treatable.

Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. For more information on developmental milestones, visit the CDC’s “Know the Signs. Act Early” site.

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects

Early recognition, as well as behavioral, educational, and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning.

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