What Is Autism? ASA Guide to Diagnosing & Treating Autism
What are the most common characteristics of autism?
People on the autism spectrum may:
- Not understand what you say
- Appear deaf
- Be unable to speak or speak with difficulty
- Engage in repetitive behaviors
- Act upset for no apparent reason
- Appear insensitive to pain
- Appear anxious or nervous
- Dart away from you unexpectedly
- Engage in self-stimulating behaviors
Also, the The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) lists five signs of autism that parents and pediatricians should look for in children:
- Does not babble or coo by 12 months
- Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
- Does not say single words by 16 months
- Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
- Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age
What should I do if I suspect my child has autism?
Whether you or your child’s pediatrician is the first to suspect autism, your child will need to be referred to someone who specializes in diagnosing autism spectrum disorders. This may be a developmental pediatrician, a psychiatrist or psychologist, and other professionals that are better able to observe and test your child in specific areas.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that treatment be started when an autism diagnosis is suspected rather than waiting for a formal diagnosis. The advantages of early intervention cannot be overemphasized. Children who receive intensive therapy can make tremendous strides in their overall functioning and go on to lead productive lives.
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