Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others . ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.
Early Signs of Autism:
Autism is treatable. Individuals with autism do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.
Little or no eye contact
Persistent fixation on parts of objects
Lack of or delay in spoken language
Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
Lack of interest in peer relationships