Get The Facts About Autism
What is autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect the ways a person interacts, communicates, and behaves.
Autism exists on a “spectrum” because things such as sensory, social, and communication needs for individuals that are autistic can present across a spectrum ranging from high to low.
There is a range of support needs for individuals who are on the autism spectrum. Some may need less support while others may need and require more.
Signs and symptoms
ASD is considered a “neurodevelopmental disorder”, these behavior patterns and differences in sensory issues and communication skills can show up as early as 18 months.
Not everyone will show every behavior which is why it’s important for a doctor to make an autism diagnosis.
Some signs of ASD in children/adults can include:
- trouble relating to others or no interest in other people
- having more or less sensitivity than other people to sensory input, such as light, noise, clothing, or temperature
- avoiding eye contact and want to be alone
- trouble expressing their needs
- repeating actions
- having more sensitivity to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
- not looking at objects when another person points at them
- trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- not playing “pretend” games (for example, not pretending to “feed” a doll)
- trouble adapting when a routine changes
- not pointing at objects to show interest (for example, not pointing at an airplane flying over)
- repeating or echoing words or phrases said to them, or repeating words or phrases in place of usual language
- losing skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)
- differences in speech tone or prosody
There’s no single known cause however researchers have identified characteristics that may increase a person’s chance of developing the condition.
These factors include:
- having older parents
- having certain genetic conditions, such as:
- Down syndrome
- fragile X syndrome
- Rett syndrome
- having an autistic sibling
Some signs that your child may benefit from an evaluation include:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- not speaking single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- poor eye contact
- no smiling or other engaging expressions
- no response to their name
- losing previously acquired language or social skills
There are many support services that include therapy to help develop language and other communication skills, tools to manage behavior, and social skills.
Since there is no single best way to manage autism and no two autistic people are alike, tailored support to address the individual’s wants and needs is the best path forward.
For some, support may be centered around specific issues in:
- initiation of social interaction
Autism healthcare professionals may use therapies to help manage those issues, such as:
- behavioral methods
- communication therapy
- occupational therapy
- physical therapy
- social play