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Help With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that can cause problems with thinking, feeling, language and the ability to relate to others.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

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  • May 11, 2017
Mental Health Month and Prevention Week: Focus on Teen Behaviors and Warning Signs

May is Mental Health Month, and the third week in May is National Prevention Week, an annual health observance focused on raising awareness about the importance of substance use prevention and positive mental health. You can join online to view the live kickoff event for National Prevention Week on May 15, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.

  • Apr 06, 2017
Targeting Pre-Teens to Fight Mental Health Stigma

The stigma, prejudice and discrimination of mental illness can be a major barrier for many people living with mental illness seeking and getting the help they need. It can make people avoid disclosing a mental health condition at work over concerns of being treated differently or even losing their job. Internalizing these negative stereotypes and perceptions (self-stigma) can further contribute to challenges.

  • Apr 04, 2017
New Characters with Autism Join Sesame Street and the Power Rangers

April is Autism Awareness Month, drawing attention to the issue of autism, raising awareness and promoting inclusion, acceptance and appreciation of children and adults on the autism spectrum.

Upcoming Events
May
2017
15
Find a Walk Near You
  • Mon,  May  15 - Wed,  May  31

Autism Speaks Walks

May
2017
15
Autism Society: Find a Local Affiliate
  • Mon,  May  15 - Wed,  May  31

Find an affiliate in your community.

Jul
2017
12
Autism Society National Conference
  • Milwaukee, Wisc.
  • Wed,  Jul  12 - Mon,  Jul  17

How early can autism be identified? What should parents do if they are concerned their young child may have autism?

Some of the signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be noticed before the age of 1, although a reliable diagnosis by an autism specialist can be made in children as young as 18 months of age. Unfortunately many children end up waiting until after their 4th birthday to be diagnosed with ASD. Delays in seeking an initial assessment and limited access to specialists are just a couple of factors that help to explain this delay. Children who have less severe ASD, or are from minority backgrounds, tend to be diagnosed later than those with severe symptoms. Researchers are developing ways of being able to diagnose autism at even younger ages, such as using eye tracking technologies. The diagnosis of autism is typically based on a clinical examination, which is often supported with other information and tests. There is no single scan or blood test that can independently diagnose autism.

My advice to parents is to trust their gut instinct when they are worried about their child and to seek the advice of their primary care pediatrician. This general assessment may then lead to a referral to a specialist who will perform a more comprehensive evaluation. Parents should also feel empowered to ask for a specialist opinion if they do not feel adequately reassured by a primary care evaluation. More

Can children “grow out” of autism?

A small minority of children show considerable improvement in their ASD symptoms following diagnosis. While ASD has historically been considered a life-long condition, recent research has shown that the outcomes associated with an ASD diagnosis can vary considerably. Some people who were diagnosed with ASD in their youth may improve dramatically, and show little difference to people who have never had the diagnosis.

Whether these individuals “grew out” of autism, or simply responded exceptionally well to the therapeutic interventions, remains up for debate. One should also question if the initial diagnosis of ASD was accurate in these cases. At the moment it is difficult to identify which children will “grow out” of autism, although those who have less severe symptoms and those who obtain early access to the appropriate therapies appear to have better outcomes. More

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About the Expert:

Arshya Vahabzadeh, M.D.
Vice President, Health Strategy and Communications
Brain Power, LLC

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Adam’s Story

Adam, a 12-year-old boy, was brought in by his mother for psychiatric evaluation. He had temper tantrums that were causing problems for him at school. She said that school had always been stressful for Adam and that it had become worse after he entered middle school.

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FEB 17, 2017

Working With Autism And ADHD

Fast Company

As more people with autism and ADHD begin to advocate for themselves at work, some employers are changing their workplaces. Last year Ernst & Young initiated a pilot program to recruit and hire college graduates who have been diagnosed with autism.

FEB 16, 2017

The Flawed Designs of Drug Trials for Autism

The Atlantic

In the case of autism few drugs have proven effective in trials, and several have failed due to poor design. Just two drugs, risperidone and aripiprazole, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for autism and are intended to relieve irritability.

FEB 15, 2017

Brain scans spot early signs of autism in high-risk babies

Nature.com

By scanning the brains of babies whose siblings have autism, researchers say they have been able to make reasonably accurate forecasts about which of these high-risk infants will later develop autism themselves. The findings raise the prospect of diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) months before children develop symptoms, a goal that has proved elusive.