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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

  • May 29, 2018
Predicting Autism in Infants: Early Identification and Early Treatment

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April this year, one in 59 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a very complex and variable condition. It is diagnosed based on observations of behavior in children as young as 2 years old, but it is often diagnosed much later. Interventions to treat autism symptoms are more effective the earlier they start, so identifying children earlier allows for starting treatment earlier, potentially lead to better outcomes.

  • Dec 12, 2017
Online Mental Health Screenings: A Potential First Step

Several organizations provide brief online screenings for depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health conditions. More than one million people took screenings through the Mental Health America site alone in 2016.

  • Nov 30, 2017
Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Linked to Changes in Medication Use Among People with Serious Mental Illness

People with serious mental illness exposed to direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of medications are more likely to stop taking their medications than those not exposed to the advertising, according to new research published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

Upcoming Events
May
2018
01
Autism Speaks: Local events listing
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Ongoing Series of Events

Jul
2018
10
Autism Society National Conference
  • Washington, DC
  • Tue,  Jul  10 - Thur,  Jul  12
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM
Oct
2018
01
Find a Walk Near You
  • Mon,  Oct  01 - Wed,  Oct  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Autism Speaks Walks

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

There is so much information about therapies, treatments and diets for children with autism — how do I know what’s right for my child?

Parents naturally want the best for their child, and many will try different treatments, diets and therapies to help their loved one. It is difficult to cover all of the numerous therapies but here are the key points:

  1. Medical and psychiatric conditions that co-exist with ASD should be identified and treated by a suitably trained physician. These can include immune problems, digestive problems and ADHD.
  2. Natural therapies or treatments are often advertised as being safe and effective. Unfortunately most of these treatments do not have high quality scientific evidence that supports either claim. Some parents have described improvements in their child by using specialized diets. The most important point here is to make sure the child receives enough calories and nutrients regardless of the dietary change.
  3. Parents should be very cautious of treatments that are advertised as being able to “cure” autism; these claims are often of a dubious nature.

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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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Editor's Choice

JULY 23, 2018

Catch Signs of Autism as Early as Possible

The Sun Daily

Dr Mohd Feizel said early therapy and education suitable to the level of autism can help identify potential in an autistic child in terms of learning, communication and social skills that will lead to a better life. There is no clinical test that can diagnose an autistic child, he explained, but an evaluation can be done through behavioural observation and by identifying the traits of autism in the person.

JULY 19, 2018

This Life with Gracie: He's on the autism spectrum but manages to write a comic book

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

All too often people with autism are stymied by life's disappointments, unable to move past the frustrations of being let down. 'With most of the people who are on the autism spectrum and are past high school age, the problem becomes their intense area of focus,' Dr. Whitney said. 'Getting upset and using avoidance can be more typical.' That makes 30-year-old Robert Wollstein of Alpharetta pretty unique.

JULY 18, 2018

PuChild's Risk of Autism Can Change Based on Health of MOther's Gut

Newsweek

New research suggests that the risk of developing autism is determined by the mother's gut during pregnancy. Scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine were able to analyze pregnant women's microbiomes to determine the child's risk of developing autism. The study, published July 2 in The Journal of Immunology,also researched how to use this finding to halt the development of autism-like neurodevelopmental disorders in mice.