WHAT IS AUTISM
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can vary in the severity of symptoms, age of onset, and the presence of various features such as language and intellectual ability. The manifestations of ASD can differ considerably across individuals. Even though there are strong and consistent commonalities, especially in social deficits, there is no single behavior that is always present in every individual with ASD and no behavior that would automatically exclude an individual from the diagnosis of ASD.
● In 2018, the CDC determined that approximately 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
● Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls (1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls)
● Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
● Although most diagnoses occur after age 4, autism can be diagnosed as early as 2 years of age.
● Although there isn't a known cause for autism, research indicates that genetics are involved in a vast majority of cases diagnosed.
SIGNS OF AUTISM.
Individuals with ASD interact with others differently:
● They often appear to have difficulty understanding and expressing emotion and may express
attachment in a different manner.
● Lack of language development and rely upon other methods of communicating such as pointing to pictures or using a tablet computer with special language applications.
● Echolalia, (the repeating of words or phrases over and over).
● Difficulty understanding the nonverbal aspect of languages such as social cues, body language and vocal qualities (pitch, tone, and volume).
● Great need for "sameness" which can make them upset if objects in their environment or time schedules change.
● Difficulty "playing" with toys in the same manner as their peers and may become fixated on specific objects.
● Different reactions to sensory stimuli seeing, hearing, feeling or tasting things with more or less intensity than others.
● Different rates of development especially in the areas of communication, social and cognitive skills. In contrast, motor development may occur at a typical rate.
Sometimes skills will appear in children with ASD at the expected rate or time and then disappear. A child/adolescent with autism may not exhibit all of these symptoms, but it is important to look out for them.
WHAT DO I DO IF I SUSPECT THAT MY CHILD MAY
● Get a diagnosis. If you're concerned, see a doctor who's familiar with ASD. Don't assume the child will catch up. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers an online pediatrician referral service, searchable by specialty and location.
● Get help. Education, intervention and speech therapy are often critical.
● Know your rights. Children with autism can be eligible for early intervention and special education services that are free starting at age 3. Your health insurance may also include coverage for the medical services your child needs.