Autism: signs , symptoms and screening

You may be worried, confused, or hopeful that you’ll find a diagnosis for your child’s symptoms. Whatever you’re feeling, something brought you to this page. The best thing you can do is find the answer to your question. If it is autism, appropriate support can make a huge difference in your child’s life.

What Is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder with symptoms that appear within the first three years of life. Most children with autism look like other kids but they act and interact in ways that feel different from the behaviors of other children. When interacting with others, they may respond in unexpected ways, or they may not interact at all.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that it appears in a range of forms and levels of severity. Some individuals develop typical capabilities in terms of speech and language – and develop exceptional skills – but struggle with lifelong social and behavioral differences. Others may have challenges in communication, sensory sensitivities, and behavioral issues, such as excessive tantrums, repetitive behaviors, aggression, and self-harm. The good news is that appropriate treatments can improve outcomes for many, if not most, people diagnosed with ASD.

How Common Is It?

For many years a diagnosis of autism was rare, occurring in just 1 child out of 2,000. However, since the mid-1980s, the rate of autism has increased dramatically around the world.

What are the Signs of Autism?

Many signs can indicate that an individual may be affected by an ASD. Keep in mind that every person diagnosed with autism is different. Some have several signs and symptoms, while others experience only a few.

Common early signs include:

  • Delayed speech or difficulty communicating
  • Poor eye contact
  • Little or no imaginative play
  • No joint attention – not looking in the same direction as others
  • Showing limited interest in other people
  • Highly emotional responses to changes in routine

The DSM-5, the standard reference used by most healthcare providers, includes a full list of autism diagnostic criteria. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should ask your loved one’s physician to perform an autism screening.

Where Can I Get Autism Screening?

Early intervention can make a big difference for children with autism and screening during the first three years of life is increasingly becoming the standard of care.

There are no genetic, blood, or other laboratory tests that can confirm an autism diagnosis. Instead, medical providers use observation and standardized behavioral evaluation to identify children at risk for an ASD.

If you have concerns about your child’s symptoms or behavior, ask your medical provider to perform an autism screening. Specialists like developmental pediatricians and clinical psychologists are also trained in diagnosing ASD.

 Early intervention can improve quality of life for children across the spectrum. Talk to your medical provider today if you have any concerns


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