Autism Spectrum Disorder

According to the CDC, one in 54 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD.  ASD is four times more common among boys than girls. ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. About one in six children ages 3 to 17 years old were diagnosed with a developmental disability in a study from 2017 to2019. These included autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, blindness, cerebral palsy.

Each person with ASD has distinct strengths and challenges and is in a spectrum. Autism or ASD is a broad range of conditions where there are several challenges in repetitive behaviors, speech, nonverbal communication, and social skills. The spectrum ranges from how they learn, how to solve problems and how they use their skills. Those with ASD need support and some are able to live independently. Some need a lot of support daily from their day-to-day function.

Those with ASD have poor to moderate eye contact and may prefer not to look or listen to people. Patients with ASD are sometimes slower to respond when their parents or teachers call them to get their attention. Patients with ASD have difficulties with conversations. They talk about subjects at length and are not able to give others a chance to speak. Their facial expressions are incongruent with what is being said. Patients with ASD have a singsong speech or monotonous voice. Some with ASD may have echolalia. Some may have trouble understanding other people’s points of view and may think concretely and are not able to understand other people’s actions and nonverbal cues.

People with ASD may have difficulty in communication, interaction with others. They may have repetitive behaviors, restricted interest, and may have challenges at school, work, relationships in other areas of life. Those with ASD have many different variations in the severity of symptoms that people with ASD experience. Those with ASD prefer to stick to a routine and maybe very upset when changes to routine occur. Patients with autism are either more sensitive or less sensitive to sensory input such as temperature, clothing, noise, and light. Patients with ASD may experience challenges in their sleep and may become irritable.

The strengths of those with ASD are interested in numbers, details are facts intensely. They excel in math, science, art, music, and are very strong visual and auditory learners. They are able to remember much detailed information.

ASD is usually diagnosed around two years old. Support from the Pediatrician, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapists, Counselors, and Teachers gives support to those with ASD and their families.  A combination of medication management and therapy is important to assist with those with ASD.

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