Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by:
· social impairments
· cognitive impairments
· communication difficulties
· repetitive behaviors
Because Autism is a spectrum disorder, it can range from very mild to very severe and occur in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly “regress” and lose language or social skills they had previously gained. This is called the regressive type of autism.
A person with ASD might:
· Not respond to their name (the child may appear deaf)
· Not point at objects or things of interest, or demonstrate interest
· Not play “pretend” games
· Avoid eye contact
· Want to be alone
· Have difficulty understanding, or showing understanding, or other people’s feelings or their own
· Have no speech or delayed speech
· Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
· Give unrelated answers to questions
· Get upset by minor changes
· Have obsessive interests
· Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
· Have unusual reactions (over or under-sensitivity) to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
· Have low to no social skills
· Avoid or resist physical contact
· Demonstrate little safety or danger awareness
· Reverse pronouns (e.g., says “you” instead of “I”)
People with autism may also:
· Have unusual interests and behaviors
· Have extreme anxiety and phobias, as well as unusual phobias
· Line up toys or other objects
· Play with toys the same way every time
· Like parts of objects (e.g., wheels)
· Become upset by minor changes
· Have obsessive interests
· Hyperactivity (very active)
· Impulsivity (acting without thinking)
· Short attention span
· Causing self injury
· Unusual eating and sleeping habits
· Unusual mood or emotional reactions
· Lack of fear or more fear than expected
· Have unusual sleeping habitsDoesn't make eye contact (e.g. look at you when being fed)
Doesn't smile when smiled at.
Doesn't respond to his or her name or to the sound of a familiar voice.
Doesn't follow objects visually.
Doesn't point or wave goodbye or use other gestures to communicate.
Doesn't follow the gesture when you point things out.
Doesn't make noise to get your attention.
Doesn't initiate or respond to cuddling.
Doesn't imitate your movements and facial expressions.
Doesn't reach out to be picked up.
Doesn't play with other people or share interest and enjoyment.
Doesn't ask for help or make other basic requests.
If You’re Concerned
If you think your child might have ASD 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.
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.
You can find the right contact information for your state by calling the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) at 919-962-2001.
If your child is 3 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.
If you’re not sure who to contact, call the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) at 919-962-2001.
Research shows that early intervention services can greatly improve a child’s development. In order to make sure your child reaches his or her full potential, it is very important to get help for an ASD as soon as possible.
Fight 4 Autism
· Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of 3
· Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities
· Individuals with autism often suffer from numerous co-morbid medical conditions which may include: allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, feeding disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, sleeping disorders, and more
· Autism is diagnosed four times more often in boys than girls. Its prevalence is not affected by race, region, or socio-economic status. Since autism was first diagnosed in the U.S. the incidence has climbed to an alarming one in 54 children in the U.S.
· New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in this county. I in 32 children. 1 in 20 boys.
· Autism itself does not affect life expectancy, however research has shown that the mortality risk among individuals with autism is twice as high as the general population, in large part due to drowning and other accidents.
· Currently there is no cure for autism, though with early intervention and treatment, the diverse symptoms related to autism can be greatly improved and in some cases completely overcome.
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.