What is autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning.
UNDERSTANDING AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER
WHAT DOES SPECTRUM MEAN?
The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur in people with ASD. Some children and adults with ASD are fully able to perform all activities of daily living while others require substantial support to perform basic activities. ASD occurs in every racial and ethnic group, and across all socioeconomic levels. However, boys are significantly more likely to develop ASD than girls. The latest analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children has ASD.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SIGNS OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD)?
Social impairment including a lack of interest in peer relationships
Lack of or delay in spoken language
Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand/arm-flapping, twirling objects, rocking from side to side)
Little or no eye contact
Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
Persistent fixation on parts of objects
There is no cure for ASD. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to mitigate specific symptoms and can significantly improve those symptoms. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of the individual. Early behavioral/educational interventions have been very successful in many children with ASD. In these interventions therapists use highly structured and intensive skill-oriented training sessions to help children develop social and language skills, such as applied behavioral analysis, which encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative ones. In addition, family counseling for the parents and siblings of children with ASD often helps families cope with the particular challenges of living with a child with ASD.