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What is autism spectrum disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral changes.
There is no physical symptom for people with ASD. People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave and learn in ways that are different from most other people.
What are the signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder?
Generally, people with autism spectrum disorder have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. The signs and symptoms of children and adults with ASD are:
- Often not point at objects to show interest.
- Often not look at objects when another person points at them.
- May avoid eye contact and want to be alone.
- May have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all.
- Often have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings.
- Prefers not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to.
- Often appears to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds.
- May be very interested in people but not know how to relate talk, play or relate with them.
- Repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language.
- Have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions.
- Repeat actions over and over again.
- Often have trouble adapting when a routine changes.
- Have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound.
- Often lose skills they once had like stopping saying a word they were using.
Screening and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
Diagnosing ASD is difficult. This is because the doctor looks at the individual’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis rather than carrying out a medical test. ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, diagnosis by a professional can be considered very reliable. However, many people are not diagnosed until their teenage or adult years. This means many people do not get the help they require at a young age.
Some of the early signs of ASD:
- Avoiding eye contact.
- Having little interest in other children or caretakers.
- Limited display of language.
- Getting upset by minor changes in routine.
Monitoring, evaluating, screening, and diagnosing children with ASD at an early age is important in order to make sure they receive the necessary services and supports they need to reach their full potential.
Diagnosing an individual for ASD involves the following steps:
Developmental monitoring observes how your child grows and changes over time and whether your child meets the typical developmental milestones in playing, learning, speaking, behaving, and moving. The caregiver should monitor how the child is developing. The child should be screened if there is any concern.
The developmental screening takes a closer look at how your child is developing. Formal questionnaires or checklists perform developmental screening. These tools ask questions about the child’s development including language, movement, thinking, behavior, and emotions.
Comprehensive developmental evaluation.
Screening does not provide a diagnosis but indicates whether there is a positive or negative development. If there is a negative development, the doctor should take a closer look by carrying out a formal developmental evaluation. This formal developmental evaluation is a deeper look at the development of the child. Results of this test determine whether the child needs special treatments or early intervention or both.
Do vaccines cause autism spectrum disorder?
A study has shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing ASD. However, some people have a concern that ASD is linked to childhood vaccination. Many of these concerns are because many vaccines contain thimerosal but research shows that thimerosal does not cause ASD.