Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum & Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder and is a growing concern in today’s society as more and more individuals are being diagnosed. Media and awareness groups report that a child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes and that 1 in 110 children are diagnosed. The cause of autism is still unknown, but great gains are being made in research and treatment.

It is called a spectrum because, although there are some obvious characteristics of ASD (i.e. hand-flapping, odd mannerisms, sensory integration issues, poor eye contact, repetitive behaviors, deficits in social-skills, etc.), there are individuals who present more subtly. People on this end of the spectrum are often labeled as having high-functioning autism, Asperger’s syndrome, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

Signs of ASD and PDD most often present during infancy and early childhood. Often parents will notice a delay in language, social interactions or regression in skills as early signs.They may also notice other behaviors that are not normal when compared to other children of the same age.

With all of the treatments out there, one recommendation is always consistent, early diagnosis and intervention. Individuals who are identified as having an ASD or PDD early on, and receive intensive, research-based interventions, are more likely to participate and succeed in general education programs. These interventions typically address behavioral and social-skill delays. The results of these interventions may lead to improved quality of family and peer relations.

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