All About Autism

What is Autism?
Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by challenges with social communication, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors.  Autism is deemed a “spectrum” disorder due to the varied conditions, symptoms, and behaviors that each diagnosed individual experiences.

Is there a cure for Autism?
Currently there is no cure for Autism, however there are a variety of interventions which are highly effective in treating Autism. Early intervention treatment is vital in improving a child’s development in their early stages, specifically from birth to three years old. In addition, therapy can also be impactful in treating Autism. These therapies include but are not limited to: applied behavior analysis therapy (ABA), cognitive behavioral therapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, animal assisted therapy and more.

At what age is Autism diagnosed?
Autism is typically diagnosed around age 2 or 3, however in some cases Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some cases of Autism go undetected during the toddler years, but it’s never too late to be diagnosed.

How common is Autism?
According to the CDC, 1 in every 44 children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Are you concerned your child may be delayed and/or showing early signs of Autism?
If you’re concerned that your child may have Autism and/or developmental delays, it is important to contact your child’s doctor and express your concern. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a specialist to further evaluate your concerns. In addition, you should contact your state’s early intervention services program. You do not need a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis for early intervention services. To find the information for your state’s early intervention services, contact Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) at 919-962-2001 for assistance. 

Identifying signs of Autism: 

  • Child may not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at the tv to identify favorite show)
  • Child may not play with toys appropriately (for example, flip toy truck over to play with wheels rather than play drive the truck)
  • Child may line up toys from size or color
  • Child may have particular interest in a subject or color
  • Child may not look at objects when another person points at them (for example, look at the trashcan when you point to it)
  • Child may have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
  • Child may avoid eye contact in person or with photos and/or want to be alone
  • Child may have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Child prefers to not be held or touched or might cuddle only when they want to
  • Child may appear to be unaware when people talk to them (i.e. not make eye contact or face the person talking to them)
  • Child may repeat words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
  • Child may have trouble expressing their needs and/or desires using words or motions
  • Child may not partake or exhibits play “pretend” with toys (i.e. not pretend to talk on the phone with a real or toy phone)
  • Child may repeat actions over and over again (i.e. jumps, flaps hands/arms, rocking side to side)
  • Child may have trouble adapting when their routine changes
  • Child may have a reactions to aspects of the five senses (i.e. way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound)
  • Child may lose skills they once had (for example, stop feeding themselves)

Did You Know?

  • Autism affects individuals in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. 
  • Autism is 4 times more prevalent in boys than girls 
  • Asperger syndrome, childhood integrative disorder, pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), are also considered as an ASD diagnosis.
  • Those with ASD may exhibit stimming behaviors (i.e. repetitive or unusual movements or noises to help with managing emotions or cope with overwhelming situations 
  • Research in the last decade shows that minorities are more likely to experience undiagnosed Autism and to have their autism diagnosed later in life 

**We are not doctors, you should still seek assistance from a licensed provider or medical professional if you have questions or concerns about your child**