What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both terms to explain a complex range of neurological disorders primarily characterized by impairments in three core areas: social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and display of repetitive behaviors.  There is a wide range of how autism displays in individuals and behaviors, and abilities can vary from one person to the next. As the Autism Society of Greater Akron points out on its website, “It is important to remember that each individual with autism is unique; while they may have certain core characteristics that diagnose them as being on the “spectrum,” their personalities and interests – and their autism – can vary as much as their “neuro-typical” peers.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified as having ASD.  This ratio uptick is due both in part to better understanding of the condition and better detection techniques. It is estimated that 1 out of 42 boys, and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

There are a number of local organizations dedicated to autism awareness and supporting families, some of these include:

What Causes Autism?

Research is ongoing, but there is some speculation that factors may include a combination of risk genes and environmental factors influencing brain development. Within the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes associated with autism. Environmental factors such as advanced parental age at time of conception (for both mom and dad), maternal illness during pregnancy and certain difficulties during delivery, particularly periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain, may play a role as well.

What are the Signs of Autism?

Early detection and intervention have proven to be key in helping children develop communication, learning and social skills and reach their potential.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children be screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at 18 and 24-month checkups. The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers-Revised (M-CHAT-R™) is one tool used by the AAP.

Additionally, Summit DD has free assessment tools to help you determine if your child is meeting his or her developmental milestones. Learn more about ASQ screenings. Of course Summit DD is also here to answer your questions or be your resource if you suspect or if your child has been diagnosed with autism. Contact Us.

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