Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that impairs thinking, feeling and social functioning. Most often this disorder becomes apparent by the age of 3 and lasts throughout a child’s life. Autism studies have shown males are four times more likely than females to develop Autism, and the amount of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder have significantly rose over the last several years.
Signs of Autism
Signs of Autism can vary in subtleties, but parents are usually the first to begin noticing changes in their child’s social and communication behaviors. Some of the signs a parent may notice include:
- Impaired social interaction. A child may have problems engaging in play, avoid eye contact and lack the warm expressions, such as smiling.
- Indifferent to others. A child may fail to seek expression to a parents comfort or anger.
- Delayed language development. A child may have the inability to hold small conversations or understand social engagement.
- Difficulty with non-verbal communication. A child may not understand facial expressions or hand gestures.
- Repetitive movements. A child may rock, spin or become intensely preoccupation with toys or objects.
Early detection and intervention of Autism is important to ensure a child receives the proper care needed. Boys Town Pediatrics encourages parents to schedule an office visit with their pediatrician if they are concerned about their child’s developmental progress, or if their child is showing signs of Autism.
During the office visit, a pediatrician will review the child’s medical history and perform a developmental exam. The pediatrician will specifically look for several language milestones that include:
- Babbling by 12 months of age
- Gesturing by 12 months of age
- Saying single words by 16 months of age
- Saying two word phrases by 24 months of age
If additional testing is needed, a pediatrician may refer to a developmental behavioral physician, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of development disorders.
My Child has Autism
Although there is no cure for Autism, there are treatment and education approaches that can reduce some of the challenges a child and parent may face. Because Autism varies on levels of severity, treatment is individualized to fit each child’s specific needs and to highlight a child’s abilities.