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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

  • Jan 03, 2019
Project SEARCH: Increasing Employment Opportunities for Young Adults with Autism

Landing your first full-time job can be challenging for anyone, but for people with autism it’s especially challenging. Two years after high school, more than half of young adults with autism are not employed, according to Autism Speaks. The Project SEARCH Transition-to-Work program aims to help improve the odds for employment for young people with autism.

  • Oct 09, 2018
Autism Often Accompanied by Other Conditions

People with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder often have a variety of co-occurring health and mental health conditions, such as gastrointestinal problems and ADHD. More than 95 percent of children with autism have at least one co-occurring disorder or condition, according to a recent study from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1) More than half of the children studied (53 percent of 4-year-olds and 69 percent of 8-year-olds had four or more additional conditions.

  • 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.

Upcoming Events
Oct
2018
01
Autism Speaks: Local events listing
  • Mon,  Oct  01 - Wed,  Oct  31

Ongoing Series of Events

Oct
2018
01
Autism Society: Find a Local Affiliate
  • Mon,  Oct  01 - Wed,  Oct  31

Find an affiliate in your community.

Dec
2018
01
Find a Walk Near You
  • Sat,  Dec  01 - Mon,  Dec  31

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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DEC 10, 2018

Autism and ADHD do run in families: Having an older sibling raises the risks

Daily Mail

Autism and ADHD do run in families: Having an older sibling with autism raises a child’s risk 30-fold - and ADHD risk increases 13-fold. Doctors have suspected ADHD and autism share genetic roots A new University of California, Davis, study found that having an older sibling with either disorder greatly increases a younger child's risks. Risks for autism are 30 times higher among children whose older siblings have it. ADHD in a sibling increases risks for younger kids by 13-fold.

DEC 9, 2018

Jaylon Smith bringing awareness to Autism during Sunday's game

247Sports.com

“My cause, my cleats.” On Sunday, players in the National Football League are allowed to change their cleats from the traditional colors and bring awareness to something that means a little more to them. Many players are trying to make people more aware of particular illnesses and former Notre Dame and current Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith is taking part. When the former Fighting Irish All-American takes the field on Sunday, he’ll be raising awareness for autism.

DEC 6, 2018

Gut bacteria may offer a treatment for autism

The Economist

Autism affects people’s social behaviour and communication, and may impair their ability to learn things. Unfortunate though this is, the upset gut floras of autistic people are seen by some investigators as the key to the condition—and to treating it. Recent research has shown that altering animals’ intestinal bacteria can have dramatic effects on their nervous systems. Ameliorating autism by tinkering with the ecology of the gut might thus be a fruitful line of inquiry.