Autism Spectrum Disorders

What is autism?

Autism (autism spectrum disorders) is a developmental disability that causes problems with social skills and communication. Severity can range from mild to severe and produces different symptoms for every individual.

What are some signs or symptoms of autism?

Children with autism may have problems with communication, social skills, and reacting to the world around them. Possible signs and symptoms include:

  • not speaking or limited verbal productions
  • loss of words the child was previously able to say
  • difficulty expressing wants/needs
  • difficulty following directions
  • repeating what is said
  • difficulty answering questions
  • reduced eye contact
  • poor play skills
  • overly focused on a topic or toy
  • difficulty making friends
  • emotional reactions for no known reason
  • dislike being touched or held
  • self stimulation of repetitive movement
  • not paying attention to sounds or movements in the environment
  • sleeping difficulty
  • problems with changes in routine
  • feeding difficulties or picky eater

How is autism diagnosed?

It is important to have your child evaluated by professionals who know about autism. Speech-language pathologists, as well as, psychiatrists may diagnose autism. SLPs play a key role because problems with social skills and communication are often the first symptoms of autism. SLPs should be consulted early in the evaluation process. There are a number of tests and observational checklists available to evaluate children with developmental problems. The most important information, however, comes from parents and caregivers who know the child best and can tell the SLP and others all about the child's behavior.

What treatments are available for people with autism?

There is no known cure for autism. In some cases, medications and dietary restrictions may help control symptoms. Intervention should begin when the child is young. Early intervention and preschool programs are very important. An evaluation by an SLP should be completed to determine social skill and communication needs. An appropriate treatment plan that meets the needs of the child and family can then be established. Treatment may include any combination of traditional speech and language approaches, augmentative and alternative communication, and behavioral interventions. It is also important to have the child's hearing evaluated to rule out hearing loss.

** Information extracted from American Speech Language Hearing Association Official Website