According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),”It is estimated that between 1 in 80 and 1 in 240 with an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an ASD.”
Approximately 13 percent of American children have some kind of disability including Autism Spectrum Disorders.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people. These disorders can range from mild to severe.
There are three classifications of ASDs.
A child with Classic Autism will have significant language and speech delays along with severe social and communication challenges, an intellectual disability and unusual behaviors and interests.
Asperger Syndrome is a milder form of Autism. Children with Asperger’s might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
Children who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). These kids usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder. The symptoms may only cause social and communication challenges.
If you believe that your child may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder here are some symptoms to look for:
A child with an ASD may:
- Not respond to their name by 12 months
- Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
- Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
- Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
- Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- Have delayed speech and language skills
- Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Give unrelated answers to questions
- Get upset by minor changes
- Have obsessive interests
- Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
- Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
If your child displays any of the above symptoms you should have him screened for Autism. There isn’t a cure for Autism, however, diagnosing the disorder early will help you and your child get the help and resources needed.
Children under the age of three can be screened at a well child visit with their pediatrician. States also offer free evaluations through the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. Parents can call this number 1-800-695-0285 to find out how to get a free evaluation from their state. If your child is over the age of three the best option is to contact your local school district for details on how to get her screened.
Even though there isn’t a cure for Autism Spectrum Disorders treatment is available. Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills including better ways to communicate, how to walk and interact with others. Your child’s doctor may also recommend diet changes or prescribe medication. It is very important to discuss your child’s symptoms with her doctor right away if you believe she may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.