Autism Spectrum Disorder

By Meghan Bailey on Mar 29, 2016

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a spectrum of developmental disabilities that impact social, behavioral, and communication behaviors. There is nothing wrong with how ASD people communicate or socialize with others. However, the way they communicate may be different from someone without ASD. Along the spectrum, there are some people with ASD who need help from others during their day-to-day lives while others are entirely self-sufficient. ASD differs between each person who has it.

ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately, such as:

  • Autistic Disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified
  • Asperger Syndrome

Signs of ASD begin in early childhood and typically last throughout a person's life. The signs appear as the child is learning basic skills, such as walking, talking, or reading, as people with ASD often learn differently than people without ASD. As there is no official test for ASD, parents and teachers are often the first to notice signs of developmental difficulties in children with ASD.

People with ASD may exhibit some of the following behaviors:

  • Have trouble relating to others or not have interest in other people at all
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Prefer not to be touched by other people, even family members
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Repeat or echo words/phrases said to them
  • Repetitive actions for long periods of time
  • Trouble adapting when a routine changes

There is no definitive list of causes for ASD. However, there is a list of factors that may contribute to children developing ASD:

  • Genetics (siblings of a person with ASD are more likely to also have ASD)
  • Prescription drugs taken during pregnancy (valproic acid, for example)
  • Children who are born to older parents

ASD affects people of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups but it does occur five times more often in boys than girls. Research has shown that early intervention services can improve a child’s development. These services help children with ASD learn important skills, including walking, talking, and interacting with others. These early services show the importance of speaking with your child's pediatrician if you suspect ASD or another developmental difficulty.

If your doctor is still concerned, you can ask for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation, such a Developmental Pediatrician, a Child Neurologist, or a Child Psychologist or Psychiatrist. The most important thing is to begin a dialogue with your child's pediatrician.   |    Autism Spectrum Disorder