What Is Developmental Screening
Developmental screening is a short test that checks to see if a child is learning basic skills when he should, or if there are delays. During developmental screening, your babys provider does a short checkup to look for signs of problems. During screening, the provider may ask you some questions or talk and play with your baby to see how he plays, learns, speaks, behaves and moves. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a problem. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for developmental delays and disabilities during regular well-child visits at:
- 9 months
- 18 months
- 24 or 30 months
If your childs provider doesnt do this kind of developmental screening, you can ask the provider that it be done. Some babies may need extra screening if theyre at high risk for developmental problems because they were born prematurely or with low birthweight or because of other reasons, like having a brother or sister with ASD. If the provider thinks your baby may have ASD, she needs a full evaluation before a diagnosis can be made.
Social Communication / Interaction Behaviors May Include:
- Making little or inconsistent eye contact
- Tending not to look at or listen to people
- Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
- Failing to, or being slow to, respond to someone calling their name or to other verbal attempts to gain attention
- Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversation
- Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond
- Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said
- Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like
- Having trouble understanding another persons point of view or being unable to predict or understand other peoples actions
Social Behavior And Traits
Just as motor skills vary based on the severity of the case of ASD, social behavior will vary as well. Social skills can improve over time with the proper therapy and intervention from professionals. Social behaviors that can signal Autism Syndrome Disorder includes:
- Aggressive social behavior such as rough play, hitting, scratching or inappropriate aggression towards their peers.
- Inappropriate language, actions or gestures may be common for individuals with ASD. These inappropriate actions can include lewd language, gestures that are aggressive or sexual in nature or actions that are unfitting for the situation they are in.
- Feelings, body language and actions can easily be misinterpreted with an individual with ASD. They may take a sentence or action out of context and respond accordingly.
- Socially, individuals on the Autism spectrum may seem awkward or uncomfortable. They will likely not pursue any sort of social activity on their own and may respond to social interactions in a timid or hostile way.
We hope that this information about the different types of Autism will help you differentiate between the three different categories of Autism. We want to encourage you to embrace all people, whether they have a disability or not, and show them all the same respect. We feel that everyone is just as important and special as the next!
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Are Siblings At Greater Risk For Autism Spectrum Disorder
The truth is that genetics do play a role in autism. When one child is diagnosed with ASD, the next child to come along has about a 20% greater risk of developing autism than normal. When the first two children in a family have both been diagnosed with ASD, the third child has about a 32% greater risk of developing ASD.
Asd Risk Genes Overlap With Other Diseases
Large-scale sequencing studies of major psychiatric diseases have revealed extensive overlap in risk loci, challenging the classification of these conditions as distinctive disorders. In 2013, the Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium conducted a massive study with 33,332 cases and 27,888 controls in order to identify pathogenic variants shared between ASD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and major depressive disorder . In addition to establishing varying degrees of pair-wise crossover, they found loci that reached genome-wide significance for all five disorders near the following genes: inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor heavy chain 3 , arsenite methyltransferase , calcium voltage-gated channel subunit alpha1 C , and CACNB2. Glessner et al. have also conducted a large-scale meta-analysis of structural variants across the same diseases and correlated structural variants in the loci of dedicator of cytokinesis 8 and KN motif and ankyrin repeat domains 1 with all five conditions. Schork et al. recently hypothesized that abnormal gene regulation in radial glia and interneurons during mid-gestation is a mechanism of shared risk, after using GWAS to identify susceptibility loci in genes including phosphodiesterase 1A , protein phosphatase 1 regulatory inhibitor subunit 1C , RHOA, immunoglobulin superfamily member 11 , and sortilin related VPS10 domain containing receptor 3 .
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Distinction From Other Disabilities
, intellectual disability is a subtype of or , which is a broader concept and includes intellectual deficits that are too mild to properly qualify as intellectual disability, or too specific , or acquired later in life through or like . Cognitive deficits may appear at any age. is any disability that is due to problems with . This term encompasses many that have no mental or intellectual components, although it, too, is sometimes used as a euphemism for intellectual disability.
Complementary And Alternative Medicine Treatments
To relieve the symptoms of ASD, some parents and healthcare professionals use treatments that are outside of what is typically recommended by pediatricians. These treatments are known as complementary and alternative medicine treatments. CAM treatments refer to products or services that are used in addition to or instead of traditional medicine. They might include special diets, dietary supplementsexternal icon, chelation , biologicals , or mind-body medicine .
Many of these treatments have not been studied for effectiveness moreover, a review of studies on chelation found some evidence of harm and no evidence to indicate it is effective in treating children with ASD . Current research shows that as many as one-third of parents of children with ASD may have tried CAM treatments, and up to 10% may be using a potentially dangerous treatment . Before starting such a treatment, talk to your childs doctor.
To learn more about CAM therapies for ASD, go to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines Autismexternal icon webpage. The FDA has information about potentially dangerous treatments hereexternal icon.
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Common Conditions Among People With Autism
While many people with autism are misdiagnosed with other types of mental illness, many are also appropriately diagnosed with both autism and mental illness. In fact, mental illness is more common among people with autism than it is among the general population.
The most common co-occurring mental illnesses for people with autism include depression and anxiety.
It’s not completely clear why this may be the case. One theory suggests that there is a genetic link between autism and mental illness. Another theory points to the extreme challenges of living in the modern world with autism. The fact is that for many people with autism, it is anxiety-provoking and depressing to attempt to overcome social, sensory, and/or intellectual challenges that are simply part of who they are.
In addition to mental illness, many children and adults with autism receive additional developmental diagnoses. While it can be argued in many cases that the symptoms are associated with autism, it is sometimes helpful to know that a child is both autistic and, for example, diagnosable with ADHD, learning disabilities, hyperlexia, Savant Syndrome, or another disorder.
A secondary diagnosis, while it may or may not be completely appropriate, can sometimes provide direction for therapy, academic support, and services. Hopefully, in doing so, this could correct any potential misdiagnoses moving forward.
Mental Illness Vs Developmental Disorder
Mental illnesses are health conditions that involve changes in mood, emotion, thinking, and behaving. They are associated with mental distress and problems with social functioning. Around one in five adults in the United States has some form of mental illness at any given time, according to the American Psychiatric Association.1 The most common mental illnesses are anxiety and depression. Mental illness can occur at any age and is treatable with medication, therapy, or a combination of medication and therapy.
One in Five Adults Have a Form of Mental Disorder
Developmental disorders like autism differ from mental illness in several important ways. Developmental disorders generally appear at birth or during childhood and are diagnosed by the age of 18. While mental illness doesnt typically interfere with cognitive abilities, a developmental disorder may impact a persons ability to learn or to understand certain thoughts. Unlike mental illness, which can be successfully treated, developmental disorders are lifelong disabilities.
Autism is 4 Times More Common in Boys Than Girls
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Change In Diagnosis Terminology
So what changed and why?
The conditions listed above overlapped, even though they were in different categories. This presented some challenges for doctors when it came to diagnosing clients. So in 2013, the medical community made a significant change. They combined all the conditions and placed them all under the ASD diagnosis. Since then, doctors began diagnosing individuals according to severity under this ASD umbrella. So whereas we formerly used the terms Aspergers or PDD-NOS, we now refer to an individuals level of severity on the Autism Spectrum.
What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorders
The exact cause of autism spectrum disorders is unknown at this time, but there appears to be a genetic factor involved in the development of autism-related disorder. Children, whose brother, sister and/or parent has an autism spectrum disorder is at greater risk for one of these disorders. Medical disorders such as fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders have been linked to autism spectrum disorders. Poor parenting skills do not appear to play a role in the development of this condition.
Several students who have been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome produced a graphic illustration of the biology behind autism spectrum disorders. Check this link to get a better idea of autism spectrum disorders .
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What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives others need less.
A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified , and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.
Myth: People With Autism Are Intellectually Challenged
Truth: Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental, not an intellectual, disorder. This means that people who have autism generally have a normal IQ and can excel in many pursuits. In fact, 44 percent of children identified with autism spectrum disorder have average or above-average intellectual ability.
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Behavior And Communication Approaches
According to reports by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Research Council, behavior and communication approaches that help children with ASD are those that provide structure, direction, and organization for the child in addition to family participation .
Applied Behavior Analysis A notable treatment approach for people with ASD is called applied behavior analysis . ABA has become widely accepted among healthcare professionals and used in many schools and treatment clinics. ABA encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors to improve a variety of skills. The childs progress is tracked and measured.
There are different types of ABA. Here are some examples:
- Discrete Trial Training DTT is a style of teaching that uses a series of trials to teach each step of a desired behavior or response. Lessons are broken down into their simplest parts, and positive reinforcement is used to reward correct answers and behaviors. Incorrect answers are ignored.
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention This is a type of ABA for very young children with ASD, usually younger than 5 and often younger than 3. EIBI uses a highly structured teaching approach to build positive behaviors and reduce unwanted behaviors . EIBI takes place in a one-on-one adult-to-child environment under the supervision of a trained professional.
- Early Start Denver Model
There are other therapies that can be part of a complete treatment program for a child with ASD:
What Are The Best Ways To Treat Autism Spectrum Disorders
Early treatment is the key to treating autism spectrum disorders. Discrete trial training is a type of treatment that separates sessions into a series of desired steps leading to the desired behaviors or responses. Floor time focuses on feelings, caregiver relationships and the sights, sounds and smells in the childs environment. Speech therapy helps with communication problems. If speech is not possible, the picture exchange communication system teaches you how to use symbolic pictures to communicate with others.
Dr. Temple Grandin, author of several books about her own life with Asperger syndrome and the subject of an HBO film, frequently lectures about the need for swift and early intervention.
Although there are no pharmaceutical treatments available, medications are sometimes prescribed to help manage high energy levels, attention problems, depression and seizures. There is some anecdotal evidence that changes in diet can reduce the effects of autism spectrum disorders.
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Getting An Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis
The road to an ASD diagnosis can be difficult and time-consuming. In fact, it is often two to three years after the first symptoms of ASD are noticed before an official diagnosis is made. This is due in large part to concerns about labeling or incorrectly diagnosing the child. However, an ASD diagnosis can also be delayed if the doctor doesnt take a parents concerns seriously or if the family isnt referred to health care professionals who specialize in developmental disorders.
If youre worried that your child has ASD, its important to seek out a clinical diagnosis. But dont wait for that diagnosis to get your child into treatment. Early intervention during the preschool years will improve your childs chances for overcoming their developmental delays. So look into treatment options and try not to worry if youre still waiting on a definitive diagnosis. Putting a potential label on your kids problem is far less important than treating the symptoms.
Myth: Vaccines Cause Autism
Truth: Numerous large-scale, high-quality research studies have been carried out to determine what relationship vaccines have to autism. None of this research has found any scientific evidence to back up this widely believed claim. The truth is, autism is highly complex and has a range of risk factors, including genetics and environment. Vaccines are not a risk factor for autism.
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What Are Other Signs And Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
A child with ASD may have challenges in communication, social and behavior skills, including:
- Has delayed speech and language skills. Some children with ASD cant speak at all or speak very little. About 40 in 100 children with ASD dont speak at all. Other children with ASD speak well.
- Has trouble talking to other people, starting a conversation and sharing his needs using typical words or motions like pointing. A child with ASD may talk a lot about something he really likes rather than have a conversation with another person.
- Doesnt understand jokes, teasing or sarcasm. Sarcasm means using bitter or teasing words to make fun of someone or something.
- Mixes up pronouns
- Repeats or echoes words or phrases
- Seems unaware when people talk to him, but responds to other sounds
- Talks in a flat, robot-like voice or talks in a sing-song or high-pitched voice
Other challenges or signs
- Is hyperactive or has trouble sitting still or paying attention
- Is impulsive
- Isnt afraid of dangerous things but is very afraid of harmless things
- Is violent
- Has temper tantrums often or hurts himself, like by banging his head or biting himself
- Has different eating or sleeping habits. Some children with ASD may eat just a few foods. Others may want to eat nonfoods, like dirt or rocks. This kind of eating problem is called pica.
- May have a good memory, especially for numbers, letters, songs, TV jingles or a specific topic
Doesnt Engage In Pretend Play:
A child has beautiful innocence and with whatever small toys or objects he has, he try to pretend them or imitate them for expensive and valuable things like Mobile, Bus, trains etc. But, sadly, the child with autism may be void of such pretending skills. If he doesnt play pretending games or imitate others or use toys in many creative ways, then there is red alert for the parents, which should not be ignored.
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Is There A Link Between Autism And Eating Disorders
Psychologists have noted that people with autism spectrum disorder and people with eating disorders share many characteristics, including: inflexible thinking, repetitive behavior, sensory processing issues, insistence on routines, limited executive functioning, etc. Its estimated that 20-30% of adults and 3-10% of minors with eating disorders have autism.
Whats less clear is whether the eating disorder produces traits similar to autism, or whether autism predisposes someone to eating disorders. Some research points to the lattera 2020 study from the University College London found that autistic traits in childhood predated an eating disorder.
UCL examined around 5,000 teenagers who had participated in a study called Children of the 90s since birth. They kept track of whether the young people showed autistic traits at ages seven, 11, 14, and 16, and whether they began to have disordered eating at 14. The participants werent necessarily diagnosed with autism, but similar traits had been reported by their parents.
Those who showed autistic traits at age seven were 24% more likely to have weekly disordered eating at 14. The eating disorders didnt increase autistic traits by age 16, suggesting that autismor difficulties similar to autismmay make developing an eating disorder more likely.