What Is Autism?

AUTISM

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by varying degrees of difficulty in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and the presence of repetitive behavior and/or restricted interests. Due to the variability and symptom presentation of ASD, no two individuals with an ASD diagnosis are the same with respect to how the disorder manifests and its impact on families. Because of the nature of the disorder, people with ASD often will not achieve the ability to function independently without appropriate medically necessary treatment.

KNOW THE SIGNS: EARLY IDENTIFICATION CAN CHANGE LIVES

Autism is treatable.  Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to improved outcomes.
SIGNS OF AUTISM BEFORE I YEAR OF AGE

  • Delay in demonstrating anticipation of being picked up
  • Delay in showing affection toward familiar people
  • Delay in demonstrating interest in children or peers other than siblings
  • Delay in reaching for a familiar person
  • Delay in playing simple interaction games with others

SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM IN THE FIRST YEAR OF LIFE

Social Symptoms

  • Limited ability to anticipate being picked up
  • Low frequency of looking at people
  • Limited interest in interactional games
  • Limited affection toward familiar people
  • Content to be left alone

Communication Symptoms

  • Poor response to name (doesn’t respond when called)
  • Does not frequently look at objects held by others
  • Restricted interests and stereotyped behaviors
  • Mouths objects excessively
  • Does not like to be touched

 

SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM 12 AND 36 MONTHS

Social Symptoms

  • Abnormal eye contact
  • Limited social referencing
  • Limited interest in other children
  • Limited social smile
  • Low frequency of looking at people
  • Limited range of facial expression
  • Limited sharing of affect/enjoyment
  • Little interest in interactive games
  • Limited functional play
  • No pretend play
  • Limited motor imitation

Communication Symptoms

  • Low frequency of verbal or nonverbal communication
  • Failure to share interests (e.g., through pointing, sharing, giving, showing)
  • Poor response to name
  • Failure to respond to communicative gestures (pointing, giving, showing)
  • Use of other’s body as a tool (pulls hand to desired object without making eye contact, as if hand rather than person obtains object)
  • Restricted interests and stereotyped behaviors
  • Hand or finger mannerisms
  • Inappropriate use of objects
  • Repetitive interest/play
  • Unusual sensory behaviors
  • Hyper/hyposensitivity to sounds, texture, tastes, visual stimuli

COMMON REASONS FOR PARENTS TO SEEK ASSESSMENT INCLUDE:

  • Speech delay
  • Lack of response to speech (worries the child may be deaf)
  • Regression or loss of skills or failure to make usual gains in skills
  • Unusual behaviors (preoccupations, early repetitive movements)
  • Limited interest in playing and interacting with others

 

If you have concerns about your child and are interested in an evaluation, please contact us at 203-674-8200.

 

Webpage content derived from:

www-autism-society.org
Volkmar, F. R., & Wiesner, L. A. (2009). A practical guide to autism: What every parent, family member, and teacher needs to know. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.