What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disability that causes problems with social skills and communication. Autism can be mild or severe. It is different for every person. Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorders.
Autism spectrum disorders are a group of related brain-based disorders that affect a child’s behavior, communication, and social skills. These disorders include autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder—not otherwise specified. They are defined by the number and severity of the symptoms.
Because most children with Autism Spectrum Disorder will master early motor skills such as sitting, crawling, and walking on time, parents may not initially notice delays in social and communication skills. Looking back, many parents can recall early differences in interaction and communication.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are developmental disorders whose symptoms may change with maturation and intervention. While infrequent, some children improve so much that they no longer can be considered to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Most of these children will have other developmental, learning, language, or behavioral diagnoses.
The sooner an Autism Spectrum Disorder is identified, the sooner an intervention program directed at core symptoms of autism can start. Each child with autism has different needs. The intervention that helps one child may not be as helpful for another. Research shows that starting an intervention program as soon as possible can improve outcomes for many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, so children can and should be referred for diagnosis and early intervention as soon as the Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms are noted.
Signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders
In both children and adults, the signs and symptoms of the autism spectrum disorders include problems with social skills, speech and language, and restricted activities and interests. However, there are enormous differences when it comes to the severity of the symptoms, their combinations, and the patterns of behavior.
Keep in mind that just because your child has a few autism-like symptoms, it doesn’t mean he or she has an autism spectrum disorder. The autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed based on the presence of multiple symptoms that disrupt your child’s ability to communicate, form relationships, explore, play, and learn.
Getting an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis
The road to an autism diagnosis can be difficult and time-consuming. In fact, it is often 2 to 3 years after the first symptoms of autism are recognized before an official diagnosis is made. This is due in large part to concerns about labeling or incorrectly diagnosing the child. However, an autism diagnosis can also be delayed if the family isn’t referred to health care professionals who specialize in developmental disorders.
If you’re worried that your child has autism, it’s important to seek out a medical diagnosis. But don’t wait for that diagnosis to get your child into treatment. Early intervention during the preschool years will improve your child’s chances for overcoming his or her developmental delays.
For more information on autism spectrum disorder or to seek a medical diagnosis, contact Dr. Steven Hartman today.