Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism is a brain-based
disorder that affects a person’s social interaction,
communication and causes other behavioral patterns that interfere
with daily functioning.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Autism are both terms applied
to a complex group of brain disorders. Signs of ASD appear before
three years of age and is considered a lifelong disorder. Autism
is characterized by an inability to form emotional ties including
a lack of responsiveness to other people. Language skills in
children with autism are delayed, abnormal or absent. Language
problems are typically present by the second year of life. A
third area of concern for children with autism is the presence of
repetitive movements and routines that are distinctly different
from other children.
Intellectual ability among children with autism varies greatly
from intellectual disability to average intelligence and above.
Children with ASD may also have motor coordination difficulties,
attention and physical health issues including gastrointestinal
Other co-existing conditions are often associated with autism.
These others can include, but are not limited to, problems
processing sensory information, sleep disorder, underlying
genetic syndromes such as Fragile X, or seizure disorder.
The incidence of autism is estimated to be 1 in 68 children born
in the United States. Autism is four to five times more common in
boys than in girls with 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls diagnosed
with ASD. More than 3 million people in the U.S. are
affected by ASD.
With the publication of best practice standards for clinical
screening, diagnosis and assessment of children suspected of
having autism, accuracy of the diagnostic process has improved
Because many of the symptoms of ASD are shared with several other
childhood disorders, formal diagnostic evaluation is needed by a
qualified psychologist or developmental pediatrician to ensure an
accurate diagnosis. The earlier the disorder is diagnosed, the
sooner the child can be helped through treatment interventions.
Reliable diagnoses can typically be achieved by age 3 years.
Each child with ASD is different. Some go on to live full,
independent lives. Others are unable to live independently
and have significant disabilities. Because the term “Autism
Spectrum Disorder” is an umbrella term, people with Autism are
often spoken of as being “on the spectrum” reflecting the range
of impact that Autism can have on a person’s daily life and