If you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism. While there are specific diagnostic crtieria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the expression of specific symptoms of autism can vary significantly from person to person. In some people diagnosed with autism, we can link the ASD to a genetic condition — but in others, there’s no obvious cause.
It is worth taking the time to understand this complex condition, particularly because it’s so common. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one in 44 children under eight has some form of autism.
With such prevalence, it’s important for the neurotypical people to be well-versed in ASD. In this guide, we give you a quick overview of autism spectrum disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder 101
Autism impacts the way a person’s brain develops early in childhood. Autism is now used as an umbrella term that encompasses several previously differentiated conditions, including Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder.
When a child gets diagnosed with autism, it means that they will deal with certain deficits due to the way their brain is developing. Generally, autism impacts the way that the individual learns, communicates, and behaves.
While an autism diagnosis means the child’s brain develops differently, it may not affect them physically. A child with autism may present as a neurotypical child.
In lieu of physical symptoms, medical professionals have identified two main traits of ASD:
- Social communication behaviors
- Restricted, repetitive behaviors
To help us all understand more about this condition, let’s talk about how it impacts the people living with it.
How ASD Affects People
Autism can be hard to wrap your head around because it exhibits differently in different people. While some individuals living with autism are nonverbal, others can have lengthy, nuanced conversations.
Generally, though, ASD creates challenges for the diagnosed individual in the following areas:
- Communication, both verbal and non-verbal (e.g., gestures)
- Social interaction
- Eating and sleeping habits
- Symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Limited interests
- Repetitive behaviors
Ultimately, autism is a complex developmental disorder that can create a range of challenges for the individual. Fortunately, those obstacles don’t have to be insurmountable.
Spotting Autism Early
Extensive research shows that early treatment for people with ASD makes a big difference in helping them realize positive life outcomes. As a result, it’s important for parents to monitor their child’s development. In most kids, the signs of ASD develop by age 3. In some cases, you may start noticing differences as early as 12 months.
Once a child gets diagnosed with autism, their family has the opportunity to create a support system around them. The diagnosis often feels overwhelming. Remember, though, that you now have clarity about the situation at hand. Armed with your child’s diagnosis, you can start taking steps to give them the right care at home and connect them to treatment to help them. Many people with autism go on to lead healthy, happy, productive lives.
You don’t have to navigate this road alone, either. Our team of autism specialists here at Stride Autism Centers can help. We offer tailored programs for preschoolers with autism designed to help them thrive. If you think your child might be living with autism, let’s talk.