Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children- Early Signs, Diagnosis, and Treatment
“If you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism”.
The US Center for Disease Control reports that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects 1 in 54 children in the United States. With the increasing prevalence of Autism in our society, many questions have arisen about what Autism is and how it impacts the lives of those who have it and their families.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition that is characterized by difficulties in the areas of communication, sensory processing, behavior, and social interaction. Autism is indeed a spectrum with mild symptoms on one end and the more severe symptoms on the other. Autism occurs more commonly in boys than in girls. Some children with Autism have limited language skills or are completely nonverbal while others have large vocabularies and may struggle with understanding the intricacies of social interaction.
Signs of Autism:
There are several early signs of Autism in children. These include:
- delayed language development
- limited interest in social interaction
- repetitive behaviors such as spinning, flapping, or rocking
- a child may show limited interests (e.g. dinosaurs or trains)
- a child may not play appropriately with toys (e.g. lining up cars or spinning the car's wheels instead of making them drive )
- a child may prefer to be alone and may resist interacting with others
- limited eye contact is commonly seen in children with Autism
- a child with Autism may have a limited diet
- a child with Autism may have difficulty with changes in their routine
- a child with Autism may display sensitivities to loud sounds, bright lights, or to smells.
If you are concerned about your child’s development, you should first speak to your child’s Pediatrician. He or she will be able to discuss your concerns with you and may refer you to a specialist in the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders or to your local Early Intervention agency. Early Intervention provides free services to children from birth through 5 years of age. Your local school district can then provide information and support to your child and your family throughout your child’s school years. Autism Spectrum Disorders are commonly diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 4, although some children do not receive a diagnosis until later in elementary school.
Early intervention is essential in providing effective treatment for children with Autism. Therapies may include : speech therapy, occupational therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis, play therapy and social skills therapy. Children with Autism may receive school based therapies as well as private therapies in an outpatient clinic. In addition to traditional therapies, some families choose to include special diets, supplements, and holistic healthcare treatments.
Support for families:.
There are many national, state, and local groups for families of children with Autism. These groups can provide information, resources, and emotional support as a family navigates from the initial diagnosis into the busy world of therapy appointments and IEP meetings . These groups help families by providing an insider’s point of view and the understanding that can only come from another that has walked the same path as you. They may offer respite care, support groups for siblings, or specialized summer camp opportunities.
The following resources are available to assist families with children who have been diagnosed with Autism.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s language development, please call The Speech Spot Pediatric Therapy at 814-201-6670