This neurodevelopmental disorder is characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. These signs often develop gradually, though some children with autism reach their developmental milestones at a normal pace and then regress. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent in early childhood, typically before age three.
AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER
Although many signs and symptoms of Autism are similar, no two Autistic people are exactly the same. That’s why it is referred to as a “spectrum.” The abilities of one Autistic person can vary significantly from those of another.
Some Possible Signs/Symptoms of Autism:
- Hypo or Hyper Eye Contact: Some Autistic people prefer to avoid eye contact, whereas others may use what seems to be too much.
- Does not show typical facial expressions by typical development age.
- Delays in developmental milestones such as speech and motor skills.
- Atypical imaginative play patterns.
- Sensory Processing Challenges: Prefers more/less physical contact than typical or more/less sound levels than typical, etc.
- Frequent Repetitive Movements (Stimming)
- Deep focus on “Special Interests”
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences.
These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, and repetitive behaviors.
The CDC estimates that about 1 in 68 children has been identified with ASD, or 14.6 per 1,000 8-year-olds, in the USA.
Currently, autism can be reliably diagnosed by age 2. With earlier diagnosis comes greater opportunities for intervention that supports healthy development and improves function and quality of life.