If you’re a parent, when your baby was born did you count fingers and toes? That’s a common first check of a child’s wellbeing.
A check that’s more difficult to do is to determine if your child has a neurological or development disorder such as autism spectrum disorder.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the overall name for a group of developmental disorders. It affects about one child in 68.
Autism spectrum disorder encompasses a wide range of symptoms, skills and disabilities. The disorder includes what was previously referred to as Asperger syndrome or disorder.
The first signs of ASD show up in early childhood, generally by age 3, and last throughout a person’s life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, and how he or she communicates and learns.
Some children with ASD are only mildly impaired by the disorder. Others are more severely disabled.
Researchers haven’t found the causes of ASD yet, but studies suggest both genetics and environment may be involved. What’s more clear, based on a large number of well-designed studies, is that ASD is NOT caused by immunizations or immunization preservatives.
The National Institutes of Mental Health explains that children with ASD may:
Children with ASD sometimes have exceptional mental proficiencies. They may have:
In social situations that require communications, children with ASD may:
The number of children being diagnosed with ASD has been increasing. Researchers differ about whether the increase is because ASD is becoming more common or is simply being diagnosed more often.
A child’s risk for ASD increases if the child:
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s neurological or developmental progress, see your health care professional.
Here are some possible signs of ASD categorized by age.
By 6 months of age:
By 9 months:
By 12 months:
By 16 months:
By 24 months or age:
At any age:
The reason autism spectrum disorder is known as a spectrum is because it can display with a range of characteristics. That means there’s not a single course of effective treatment.
Early diagnosis can help you and your child’s health care provider develop the right treatment plan for your child. Your provider can help guide you to more resources. Additional resources may be found through the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs program. A discussion with your child’s school is important, so that an Individualized Educational Program can be set up if your child needs it.
A local autism support group can help you understand your options, make the right choices and reduce your stress. Autism Speaks is a reputable national organization that supports autism information and research, and has additional resources.
Much more information about autism is available from the American Academy of Pediatrics through their healthychildren.org website.
If you have questions or concerns about autism spectrum disorder, visit with your health care professional.
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