What is Autism?

According to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) one in every 68 children are diagnosed with Autism (also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder.) So, what does that mean for that individual and her or his family?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex brain development disorders. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.

Looking at the effects of autism in the classroom

The many types of Autism-related disorders can be confusing, especially if you recently were given a diagnosis. Autism subtypes such as Autistic Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS and Asperger Syndrome have recently been merged into one umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder or Autistic Disorder (299.00, DSM-V). We feel that it’s important to focus on the individual and their treatment, not the diagnosis. Because every person with Autism is different, we use a variety of assessments, alongside caretaker interviews, to determine the most effective interventions.

Click here now to speak to one of Animate Behavior’s Board Certified Behavior Analysts and learn how we can help bring out the vibrancy of your loved one with Autism.

Navigating the Autism Diagnosis

Is your child exhibiting signs of Autism? If you’re considering seeking a professional opinion, it is important to know the facts.

Autism Spectrum Disorder can often be reliably detected by the age of 3 years, and in some cases as early as 18 months. Some studies suggest that children may be accurately identified by the age of 1 year or even younger.

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As assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder may be completed by a number of different professionals including:

  • Psychologists
  • Neurologists
  • Pediatricians
  • Psychiatrists

Who specifically can complete this assessment varies from state to state. Access the state-by-state resource guide by Autism Speaks to find local resources.

How is an Autism Diagnosis Made?

Currently, there are no medical tests to diagnosis Autism.

Autistic child plays with his toys

An accurate diagnosis must be based on observations of the individual’s communication, behavior, and developmental levels.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Children diagnosed with Autism often struggle in social situations. This may be exhibited in one, or more than one, of the following ways:

  • Difficulties in verbal communication
  • Deficit in nonverbal communication skills, eye contact, appropriate facial expressions or body language
  • Difficulty developing peer relationships. For example, a child with Autism may only play with adults, or with younger children.
  • A general lack of interest
  • Deficits in emotional reciprocity
  • Lack of social interaction (child may prefer solitary activities and not participate in age-appropriate play)

Impairments in Communication

Children with autism often display communication impairments in spoken and nonverbal language.

However, there are many people diagnosed with Autism, who have adequate speech. In these cases, there are often other impairments, such as:

  • Difficulty initiating and maintaining conversation
  • Engagement in repetitive use of language or unusual language
  • Inflexibility, especially around non-functional routines or rituals
  • Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
  • Challenges in engaging in make-believe play
  • Repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities (also known as self-stimulatory behaviors)

Do you have questions about the how our Autism interventions can bring out your loved one’s greatest potential? Click here now to speak to one of our Board Certified Behavior Analysts.