What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Definition (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.
A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.
Signs And Symptoms Of Autism
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They may repeat certain behaviors and may not embrace change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.
Children Or Adults With ASD Might:
- not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
- not look at objects when another person points at them
- have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
- avoid eye contact and want to be alone
- have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
- appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
- be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
- repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
- have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
- not play”pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)
- repeat actions over and over again
- have trouble adapting when a routine changes
- have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
- lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)
Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder can be difficult since no medical autism test currently exists to diagnose the disorder. Instead doctors look at key markers in the child’s behavior and development to arrive at a diagnosis.
ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable and should be sought as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with ASD might not get the early help they need to reach their full potential.
There is currently no cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s future development. Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills and maximize their potential. Services can include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others. Therefore, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has ASD or another developmental problem.
Even if your child has not been diagnosed with an ASD, he or she may be eligible for early intervention treatment services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that children under the age of 3 years (36 months) who are at risk of having developmental delays may be eligible for services. These services are provided through an early intervention system in your state. Through this system, you can request an evaluation.
In addition, treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, often does not need to wait for a formal ASD diagnosis. Early intervention is the key to making the most of your child’s future development.
Causes and Risk Factors?
ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but is about 4.5 times more common among boys than among girls.
For over a decade, CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been estimating the number of children with ASD in the United States. We have learned a lot about how many U. S. children have ASD. It will be important to use the same methods to track how the number of children with ASD is changing over time in order to learn more about the disorder.
Concerned Your Child May Have ASD?
If you’re concerned your child might have Autism Spectrum Disorder or you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts, contact your child’s doctor, and share your concerns as soon as possible.
If you or the doctor is still concerned, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation of your child. Specialists who can do a more in-depth evaluation and make a diagnosis include:
Developmental Pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs) Child Neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves) Child Psychologists or Psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind)
At the same time, call your state’s public early childhood system to request a free evaluation to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services. This is sometimes called a Child Find evaluation. You do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.
Where to call for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:
- If your child is not yet 3 years old, contact your local early intervention system.
- If your child is 5 years old or older, contact your local public school system.
- Even if your child is not yet old enough for kindergarten or enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.
- In the US, contact the Early Childhood Intervention agency in your state.
At Jaden’s Voice we hope to reunite, strengthen, preserve and help families endure an ASD diagnosis. Autism Impacts all members of the family: Parents, Siblings, Grandparents and Friends. We know that everyone responds differently. We want you to know you are not alone. Please check our website for training programs and support groups. To find a local support group in your area or other resources visit Yellow Pages for Kids.
**IMPORTANT- This website is for informational purposes only.
The organizations contained herein are not endorsed or recommended by Jaden’s Voice.
As with anything else, please do your due diligence and research before selecting an organization for treatment and/or services.