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Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

November 27, 2023
As a child grows, they reach certain milestones in how they speak, move, learn, play, and behave. If your child isn’t reaching them or is behaving differently from what you would expect, it’s natural to be worried.
 

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that causes people to behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most people. ASD impacts all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and includes a spectrum of conditions. 

Recognizing Signs And Symptoms Of ASD

 
Symptoms of ASD tend to appear in the first two years of life. They differ from child to child, but common symptoms fall into three main groups:
 
Social Interactions
Children with ASD often have trouble connecting with others. They might:
  • Show limited interest in other people.
  • Avoid making or keeping eye contact.
  • Not play with other children.
  • Be unaware of emotions in themselves or others.
Communications​
A delay in talking or an unusual speech pattern is a common sign of ASD. Children with ASD also might not:
  • Respond to their name by 9 months of age.
  • Show facial expressions, like happy, sad, or angry, by 9 months.
  • Use simple gestures, such as waving good-bye, by 12 months.
  • Be able to follow a conversation.

Restrictive Or Repetitive Behaviors

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children get screened for ASD at their 18- and 24-month exams. If you notice early warning signs in your child before then, it’s important to talk with their doctor. Here’s how to start that process.

Take notes on what you see. Keep a record of specific behaviors or milestones your child may be missing.
 
Express your concerns and ask for an ASD evaluation. The doctor will guide you on the next steps.
 

Finding The Right Treatment

 

Because each person with ASD has unique needs, treatment is specific to the individual. All focus on enhancing your child's progress and reducing the impact of ASD on their daily life. With the right routine, support, and treatment, a child with autism can thrive.

Sources: 
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Autism Spectrum Disorder (accessed June 2023): aap.org.
Autism Speaks: What Is Autism? (accessed June 2023): autismspeaks.org.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Autism Spectrum Disorder (accessed June 2023): cdc.gov.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Autism Spectrum Disorder (accessed June 2023): nimh.nih.gov.
 
The information above is meant to educate, not serve as medical advice. Ask your child’s doctor for medical advice about their health.
 
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