Dont Hesitate To Act Now
If you are concerned about your childs development, please dont wait and see. If your child needs an autism diagnosis, it is best to take action early and create a plan to help support your child as they age. Know that you are not alone.For any questions regarding autism diagnosis or screening, contact us today.
What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder
Some research has identified structures in the brain as being associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder and which can be spotted as early as 18 months old. There have also been some potential advances in finding a medical test for ASD. Despite those advances, we still dont really know what causes Autism Spectrum Disorder. Its likely influenced by both genetic and environmental factors.
There are a few hypotheses that may not have been proven definitively, but nevertheless have a lot of evidence backing them up. One is that ASD has a genetic cause or causes. Having one family member with ASD increases the odds of another also being diagnosed. This may be the largest single risk factor.
However, there is also evidence that there could be some environmental causes. That just means that ASD could be caused by factors that are not genetic. Some evidence indicates that infections during pregnancy increase the odds of a child being diagnosed with ASD. Older parents also seem to increase the risk.;
It should be noted that environmental causes have a much smaller impact on the risk of ASD. Genetic factors seem to play a larger role. Regardless, as ASD is such a complex condition, its possible that several different factors play into it.
There are a few known traits that generally increase the risk of an ASD diagnosis. Those are:
Can A Person Develop Autism After Early Childhood
Steven Gans, MD, is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
There is no official diagnosis called “late-onset autism.”;In fact, the DSM-5, which lists and describes all developmental and mental disorders states that the onset of symptoms is in the early developmental period.
Still, there are plenty of articles out there about children who appear to regress after developing normally throughout their earliest years. And there are plenty of people who seem to develop autistic symptoms as teens or even adults.
So does regressive or late-onset autism actually exist? What do we know about it so far?
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Slow Onset May Explain Late Autism Diagnosis In Some Children
by Hannah Furfaro;/;3 December 2018
Some autistic children dont show traits of the condition until age 5 or later, new research suggests1. Others show a few mild features at age 3 but only later meet the criteria for diagnosis.
The findings suggest that autism traits are not always apparent by 24 months, the typical age for screening. As a result, efforts to bring down the average age of diagnosis, now at 4 years, can only go so far.
There are some children who do get evaluated, sometimes multiple times, only to get diagnosed later, says lead researcher Sally Ozonoff, endowed professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, Davis. This research is explanatory for those children.
The results are based on following baby sibs, or younger siblings of children with autism, who are at increased risk for the condition. But they should remind clinicians not to rule out autism in older children, even among the general population, experts say.
We tend to think if didnt happen early on, its not there and this is saying thats not true, says Catherine Lord, distinguished professor in residence of psychiatry and education at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the research. Its saying that we do need to continue to be vigilant and aware.
Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Babies And Toddlers
If autism is caught in infancy, treatment can take full advantage of the young brains remarkable plasticity. Although autism is hard to diagnose before 24 months, symptoms often surface between 12 and 18 months. If signs are detected by 18 months of age, intensive treatment may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.
The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of typical behaviorsnot the presence of atypical onesso they can be tough to spot. In some cases, the earliest symptoms of autism are even misinterpreted as signs of a good baby, since the infant may seem quiet, independent, and undemanding. However, you can catch warning signs early if you know what to look for.
Some autistic infants dont respond to cuddling, reach out to be picked up, or look at their mothers when being fed.
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Difference Of Autism Signs In Boys And Girls
The symptoms of ASD may range from mild to extreme, and there is no definitive list of symptoms that are sure to be shown by each and every child. On top of that, since boys are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder four times more than girls , classic symptoms may be described in a way to refer more to the boys.
The symptoms are generally the same for the both. But, an autistic girl may be:
- hide their feelings better
- good at imitating social behaviors.
This can make the impairs seem much less noticeable compared to the case of boys. Also, the autism traits in girls are reported less by their teachers.
It is important to note that not all children with autism show all of the signs. In addition, many children who actually dont have autism may show a few of the symptoms and signs. That is why professional evaluation is of utmost importance.
There are certain developmental milestones children reach in terms of their language and social abilities. Caregivers should take notice of these milestones. They should observe children closely during the first few years of their lives. These are crucial times in terms of early diagnosis and intervention. Although not reaching a milestone at a specified time or achieving it late does not necessarily mean that the child has autism, it may be a sign of a developmental delay.
Early Autism May Not Last A Lifetime
A new study found that some children correctly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders at an early age may lose symptoms as they grow older. Further research may help scientists understand this change and point the way to more effective interventions.
ASD includes several related brain disorders, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. People with ASD generally have trouble with social interactions and communication. ASD affects about 1 in every 88 children.
Optimal outcome a term used when symptoms are lost later in life has been documented in previous ASD studies. However, questions remained about whether the symptoms disappeared or the original diagnosis was wrong.
A research team led by Dr. Deborah Fein at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, sought to investigate whether optimal outcome could be seen in children whod had a confirmed ASD diagnosis before age 5. Optimal outcome participants had to be currently enrolled in regular education classrooms and have a documented report of their earlier diagnosis from a physician or psychologist specializing in autism. To confirm this assessment, the reports were edited to remove all information except the descriptions of behavior. They were then reviewed by an ASD diagnostic expert.
The optimal outcome group appeared to have somewhat milder social problems at an early age than the high-functioning ASD group. However, both had similar communication and repetitive behavior symptoms.
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How Is Autism Diagnosed
Doctors diagnose children as autistic by observing them at play and interacting with others.
There are specific developmental milestones that most children reach by the time theyre 4 years old, such as having a conversation or telling a story.
If your 4-year-old has signs of autism, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for a more thorough examination. A specialist will observe your child while they play, learn, and communicate. Theyll also interview you about behaviors youve noticed at home and may request input from your childs teachers or other adults who interact with your child.
While the ideal age to diagnose and treat the symptoms of autism is 3 years old or younger, the sooner your child receives treatment, the better.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act , all states and Washington, D. C., are required to provide an adequate education to school-age children with developmental issues. Contact your local school district to find out what resources are available for preschool-age children in your area.
What Are Housing Options For Autistic Adults
People with autism live independently, with family members, in autistic communities, or group homes. Housing options depend heavily on the severity of the persons condition.
There is debate as to who should determine where an autistic person livesthe individual, a guardian, or the government. Autistic advocates often believe that the individual should have the right to choose and be given all possible tools to communicate their preferences. Parents of people with severe autism may contend that their child doesnt have the capacity for complex thought or decision making and that the parent must work to find the best housing arrangement.
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The 30s Seem Like The Best Compromise
For many respondents, the 30s represented a sort of middle-ground between the potential pitfalls and benefits of early versus later parenting.
“Parenting in their 30s was imagined to reflect a compromise that maximized the financial and emotional advantages of later parenting while minimizing the risks of age-related infertility, smaller-than-desired family sizes, lack of energy, less lifetime spent with their children, and the potential for age-related stigma,” the study’s authors wrote.
Early Signs Of Autism In Boys
Autism is seen more prevalently in boys than in girls. Therefore, the core symptoms mostly coincide with the symptoms we have mentioned to be seen in children with autism in all ages.
Here are some of the early symptoms in autistic boys:
- Doesnt make eye contact
- Has repetitive behaviors
- Doesnt like physical contact
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A Difficult Disorder To Pin Down
Autism is not the easiest condition to diagnose.
Unlike some physical health difficulties, we dont have a biomarker for autism, Mandy told Healthline. We dont have blood tests or brain scans. We cant actually see autism itself, so instead we do what people do in all mental health disorders, pretty much. We diagnose it not by looking at the thing itself, but by looking at its manifestation, its size, and its symptoms.
In short, diagnosing autism isnt quite an exact science. The criteria for diagnosing autism includes a group of observable characteristics and behaviors that the medical community has come to a consensus on as representing autism.
Generally speaking, these characteristics come down to difficulties in the realm of social communication and flexibility when it comes to things like switching activities and focus. Other autistic characteristics include sensitivity to outside stimuli like bright lights or loud noises.
What To Do If Youre Worried
If your child is developmentally delayed, or if youve observed other red flags for autism, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician right away. In fact, its a good idea to have your child screened by a doctor even if he or she is hitting the developmental milestones on schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive routine developmental screenings, as well as specific screenings for autism at 9, 18, and 30 months of age.
Schedule an autism screening. A number of specialized screening tools have been developed to identify children at risk for autism. Most of these screening tools are quick and straightforward, consisting of yes-or-no questions or a checklist of symptoms. Your pediatrician should also get your feedback regarding your childs behavior.
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Why Is Autism Overlooked In These Early Screenings
There are a number of reasons why these initial autism evaluations dont result in an autism diagnosis, explains Dr. Nash. To avoid delays, parents should be aware of them.
- Both clinicians and parents gravitate toward the diagnosis with the best prognosis. Understandably, clinicians want a certain level of certainty before delivering a lifelong diagnosis of potential impairments, she says. So the initial approach is often to treat whats treatable and then reassess. For example, Lets treat this as ADHD first and see how much of the poor eye contact is related to inattention.
- Pediatricians want to give development a chance. It makes sense with children, since they do develop at different rates, says Dr. Nash. But doctors have a tendency to want to reassure parents, whose observations and worries are often discounted.
- Autism cant be diagnosed in a quick office visit. One reason pediatricians may not pick up autism, Dr. Nash observes, is because the evaluation takes too long. The standard assessment tool, called the ADOSthe Autism Diagnostic Observation Scheduletakes 30 minutes. And its meant to be paired with a structured interview with parents about current and past symptoms, and that takes several hours.
Empower yourselves as parents, Dr. Nash urges. Advocate for your child.
How To Begin A Diagnosis Process
Adults who suspect they or a loved one might be autistic can do a self-assessment test for adults. A person can find these tests online. While they cannot give a diagnosis, the tests are a good starting point.
A person seeking a diagnosis can take the results of such a test to a primary care doctor who will try to determine whether ASD may be present by:
- enquiring about the symptoms, both current and during childhood
- observing and interacting with the person
- speaking to a loved one
- checking for other physical or mental health conditions that may be causing symptoms
If no underlying physical condition can explain the symptoms, the doctor may refer the person to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to make an ASD diagnosis.
If symptoms are not present in childhood but begin in adolescence or adulthood, this may indicate a cognitive or mental health condition other than ASD.
It may be difficult to find a specialist who can diagnose ASD in adults. Individuals who would like a diagnosis for themselves or a loved one may need to do research to find a provider with experience diagnosing autistic adults.
Another option is to speak to a developmental pediatrician or child psychiatrist who is willing to see adult clients.
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Good News For Late Talkers: More Children With Autism Learn To Speak Than Previously Believed
Like many specialists, Ericka L. Wodka, Ph.D., has met with concerned parents who want to know one thing in particular: when, or if, their child with autism will speak.
She looked to research studies for guidance, but “I wasn’t getting my questions answered,” she said. So she launched her own study using data from the Simons Simplex Collection . The SSC includes 2,600 families who each have only one member a child with ASD.
In the largest study of the subject to date, her research team found that most young children with ASD and severe language delay developed “phrase or fluent” speech by age 8, with almost half achieving fluent speech. These findings suggest that a greater percentage of children with autism “may be capable of attaining phrase speech than previously reported.”1
Phrase speech means a child will use a two-word statement appropriately, such as “want cookie,” when he desires a snack, said Dr. Wodka, a pediatric neuropsychologist at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Her team studied 535 children from the SSC with ASD and a history of severe language delay, which was defined as being nonverbal or “not putting words together into meaningful phrases by age 4.” By age 8, 70 percent had phrase speech and 47 percent were fluent speakers.1
Autism Symptoms In Adults At Work
Symptoms of ASD vary greatly from person to person based on the severity of the condition. These or similar manifestations of ASD may be apparent at work:
- When youre having a conversation with your boss, you prefer to look at the wall, her shoes, or anywhere but directly into her eyes.
- Your co-workers say that you speak like a robot.
- Each item on your desk has a special place, and you dont like when the cleaning company rearranges it to dust.
- You are really good at math, or software coding, but struggle to succeed in other areas.
- You talk to your co-workers the same way you talk with your family and friends.
- During meetings, you find yourself making involuntary noises, like clearing your throat over and over.
- When talking with your boss, you have difficulty telling if he is happy with your performance or mad at you.
In addition, individuals with ASD may exhibit extraordinary talents in visual skills, music, math, and art. And roughly 40 percent of individuals with ASD have average or above-average intelligence.
If you experience these or similar symptoms of ASD, consult a doctor or mental-health professional for a formal autism evaluation and learn more about treatment options for autism symptoms in adults.
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Losing An Autism Diagnosis
Its rare, but some children with autism spectrum disorder lose their symptoms. Psychologists are exploring why, and how these children fare long term.
Print version: page 22
Monitor on Psychology50
As a young psychologist in the 1970s, Deborah Fein, PhD, became fascinated by a clinical mystery: A few of her patients with autism spectrum disorder who at age 2 had exhibited classic signs of the disorderhand flapping, repetitive behaviors and lack of direct eye gaze, for examplewere symptom-free by age 7.;
As time went on, she saw more of these cases, and in 2014, she was the first to demonstrate empirically that young people who had lost the diagnosiswho no longer exhibited basic clinical markers of the disordertested about the same as typically developing young people on socialization, communication, face recognition and most aspects of language .
Some of these kids just did better and better, particularly those who had received intensive treatment starting at an early age, says Fein, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut.
Now, Fein and others are discovering more about this phenomenon: How might these young people lose the diagnosis? Do they continue to be symptom-free over time? The answers are of keen interest not just to researchers but also to parents who wish the same for their own children.