Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Although there is no medical test for autism, it can be diagnosed through professional evaluation and comparisons. Being diagnosed with autism does not mean you cannot go on to live a full, productive, and meaningful life. With the help of early detection and intervention, the lives of people with autism and their families can be greatly improved.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurological and developmental disorder that can affect language, thinking, feeling, and the ability to interact with others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 68 children is identified as having autism spectrum disorder. Of these diagnosed, boys are statistically more likely to demonstrate signs of autism.  

Common Types of Autism Spectrum Disorder

There are three primary types of autism spectrum disorder:

Autistic Disorder

  • Also referred to as “classic” autism, this is the most common type of autism. It is often categorized by significant struggles with communication and social skills, language delays, and unusual patterns of behavior.

Asperger Syndrome

  • Most people with Asperger syndrome tend to have milder autistic symptoms, including social challenges and peculiar behaviors, but do not have problems with language or intellectual impairments.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder

  • When people fall between Asperger syndrome and autistic disorder, they are often diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS). The symptoms of PDD-NOS are often milder than autistic disorders and usually pertain to social and communicative challenges.

Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder

While some children will begin to show signs of autism during early infancy (e.g. reduced eye contact, lack of response to their name, general indifference toward caregivers, language or social skill loss, etc.), others may not begin to exhibit signs until later in life. However, most children begin to show signs by the age of two. Below are some common signs displayed by children with autism spectrum disorder.

Social Skills and Interactions

  • Not responding to his or her name by 12 months of age
  • Resists cuddling, closeness, and holding, and seems to prefer being alone
  • Not showing interests (pointing, acknowledging, etc.) in objects nearby
  • Has difficulty interpreting facial expressions and recognizing social cues
  • Doesn’t demonstrate eye contact or display many facial expressions

Patterns of Behavior

  • Regularly engages in repetitive movements like rocking, spinning, or hand flapping
  • Fixates on objects, tasks, or interests with irregular intensity
  • Becomes severely disturbed by minor changes or disruptions in routine or rituals
  • Prone to behavior that could cause self-harm—biting, head-banging, etc.
  • Is ultra-sensitive to sound, light, smells, taste, or touch
  • Has no interest in pretending and playing imaginatively by 18 months

Treating and Living With Autism

Being diagnosed with autism does not mean you can not go on to live a full, independent, and productive life. However, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment are essential to reducing the symptoms of autism and, therefore, improving the quality of life for those suffering from autism and their families. If you have a strong concern that your child may be exhibiting signs of autism, then a professional evaluation and assessment should absolutely performed. Though children will not outgrow or completely overcome autism spectrum disorder symptoms, they can learn to improve behavior, skills, communication, and more.

At FUNctionabilities, we address ASD through the following skill-oriented therapies:

After assessing your child’s individual needs, we are able to use our evidence-based treatments to address the following areas of a child’s development:

  • Social skills
  • Play skills
  • Daily living skills
  • Community skills
  • Emotional reciprocity
  • Attention and focus
  • Imitation and repetitive behaviors
  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • And more

At FUNctionabilities, we leverage our evidence-based therapies, methods, and facility to tailor personalized autism therapy plans. In addition to having a committed and highly trained staff, a key component of our pediatric therapy is our sensory-rich environment. This specialized facility allows us to provide highly effective treatment in a fun, stress-free environment, which is one of our main goals: make therapy fun so your child is “Learning to Play” and “Playing to Learn.” Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an evaluation!