Autism is a complex neurological and biological disorder that currently affects 1 out of every 68 children in the U.S. (CDC, 2014). The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has redefined the diagnostic criteria for ASD, combining previous diagnoses of autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorders into one category that is described by level of impairment and systems of involvement. Symptoms of ASD typically are present in children as young as 2 or 3 years old and the most recent research indicates that earlier identification resulting in earlier intervention leads to the best outcomes for children with autism.
Autism is characterized by difficulty in a number of functional skill areas including communication, social skills, behaviors, and learning as well as a variety of associated medical issues. Because it is considered a spectrum disorder, the degree of impairment in any functional area will vary between individuals. One person with ASD may be non-verbal and dependent on others for self-care while another person with ASD is highly verbal and independent in self-care but lacks social understanding and has poor non-verbal communication skills. Many individuals with autism also exhibit signs of sensory processing disorders, including difficulty with sensory sensitivities or under-responsiveness to sensory information, motor coordination disorders or difficulty with sensory modulation (creating an appropriate behavioral and motor response to sensory information). Medical issues associated with ASD include the potential for seizure disorders, auto-immune disorders, metabolic disorders, and allergies.
Treatment for ASD can include a wide variety of interventions and will vary based on the needs of the individual. Options for treatment typically involve medical care, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, ABA (applied behavioral analysis), nutritional guidance and dietary intervention, psychology/social work counseling, and/or psychiatric care. Other services may be appropriate based on the types of functional impairments an individual presents with.
For more information on ASD, please contact us today or visit these helpful websites:
Autism Society http://www.autism-society.org/
Autism Speaks https://www.autismspeaks.org/
Talk About Curing Autism http://www.tacanow.org/
Autism Society of Illinois http://www.autismillinois.org/