Let’s Talk Autism

What is Autism?

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex and broad range of developmental challenges. These challenges include social skills, communication and certain behaviors. It is a spectrum disorder that may affect those with ASD in different ways. No two individuals will share the exact same symptoms.

There is no known scientific or medical cause for autism. However, there are several factors and beliefs which may contribute to having the disorder. Diagnosis of this disorder can be made as early as 18 months through a series of tests that must meet a certain criteria. Which include, developmental history, medical issues and behavior observation. The diagnosis is usually done through a physician or psychologist with a interest in autism.

Autism cannot be cured but can be treated. Children diagnosed with autism will become adults with autism. At best, we can help spread awareness. Educate, Advocate, Support and Love those living with autism.

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Signs of Autism (Information provided by CDC.GOV)

Early Signs

  • Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
  • Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
  • Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • 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 to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

Social

  • Does not respond to name by 12 months of age
  • Avoids eye-contact
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Does not share interests with others
  • Only interacts to achieve a desired goal
  • Has flat or inappropriate facial expressions
  • Does not understand personal space boundaries
  • Avoids or resists physical contact
  • Is not comforted by others during distress
  • Has trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about own feelings

Communication

  • Delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Reverses pronouns (e.g., says “you” instead of “I”)
  • Gives unrelated answers to questions
  • Does not point or respond to pointing
  • Uses few or no gestures (e.g., does not wave goodbye)
  • Talks in a flat, robot-like, or sing-song voice
  • Does not pretend in play (e.g., does not pretend to “feed” a doll)
  • Does not understand jokes, sarcasm, or teasing

Unusual Interest and Behaviors

  • Lines up toys or other objects
  • Plays with toys the same way every time
  • Likes parts of objects (e.g., wheels)
  • Is very organized
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Has to follow certain routines
  • Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles

Other Possible Related Symptoms

  • Hyperactivity (very active)
  • Impulsivity (acting without thinking)
  • Short attention span
  • Aggression
  • Causing self injury
  • Temper tantrums
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits
  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions
  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected
  • Unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

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What should you do if you suspect autism?

For a children, the first sign that you notice something wrong, you should first speak with your child’s pediatrician about your concerns. The pediatrician will recommend a qualified professional who specializes in diagnosing autism.

  • Developmental Pediatrician
  • Pediatric Neurologist
  • Child Psychologist
  • Child Psychiatrist
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