4/2/2012: Autism Spectrum – What does it mean?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS) is a neurological and biological disorder that is usually diagnosed during childhood and typically affects 1 in every 110 children today. There are over 1 million people estimated to live in the United States with ASD. It is so common that almost everyone knows someone who has a child with ASD. Autism affects each individual differently and at different levels of severity. Some people affected with severe autism cannot speak, require constant one-on-one care, and are never able to live independently. While others who have less severe symptoms can communicate, attend school, and acquire the necessary skills to live on their own.
One of the most important aspects of autism treatment is early identification and treatment. Some of the early clues that your child has autism include delayed development of language, difficulty in social settings such as play groups, and an inability to tolerate changes in routine. Children with mild autism may have advanced language but still have difficulties in social settings. Often a child is diagnosed because the parents have a gut feeling that “something is wrong.” Children who may have autism should be evaluated by a pediatric developmental specialist. These specialists have been trained to determine if the delays are related to autism or other disorders. Following diagnosis a treatment plan should be initiated as soon as possible. Treatment plans range from behavior and communication therapies to medications aimed at controlling some symptoms. The most important aspect is early treatment.
April is Autism Awareness Month with the aim to increase awareness about people, especially children, with autism. There are currently many on-line resources available if you have additional questions about this disorder; see a suggested list of online sites below.