Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, “a spectrum,” of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability.

Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled. Treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function. Families with concerns should talk to their pediatrician about what they’ve observed and the possibility of ASD screening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 1 in 68 children has been identified with some form of ASD.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a situation that affects social interaction, communication, interests, and behavior. In children with ASD, the sign is present before three years of age, although diagnosis can sometimes be made after the age of three. There’s no “cure” for ASD, but speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational support, plus a number of other interventions are presented to help children and parents.

What is the difference between Asperger's syndrome and ASD?

n the past, Asperger’s syndrome and Autistic Disorder were separate disorders. They were listed as subcategories within the diagnosis of “Pervasive Developmental Disorders.” However, this separation has changed. The latest edition of the manual from the American Psychiatric Association, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), does not highlight subcategories of a larger disorder. The manual includes the range of characteristics and severity within one category. People whose symptoms were previously diagnosed as Asperger’s syndrome or Autistic Disorder are now included as part of the category called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

Parents or doctors may first identify ASD behaviors in infants and toddlers. School staff may recognize these behaviors in older children. Not all people with ASD will show all of these behaviors, but most will show several. There are two main types of behaviors: “restricted/repetitive behaviors” and “social communication / interaction behaviors.”

  • Social communication / interaction behaviors may include:
      • Getting upset by a slight change in a routine or being placed in a new or overly stimulating setting
      • Making little or inconsistent eye contact
      • Having a tendency to look at and listen to other people less often
      • Rarely sharing an enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
      • Responding in an unusual way when others show anger, distress, or affection
      • Failing to, or being slow too, respond to someone calling their name or other verbal attempts to gain attention
      • Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversations
      • Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond
      • Repeating words or phrases that they hear, a behavior called echolalia
      • Using words that seem odd, out of place, or have a special meaning known only to those familiar with that person’s way of communicating
      • 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 person’s point of view or being unable to predict or understand other people’s actions.

    People with ASD may have other difficulties, such as being very sensitive to light, noise, clothing, or temperature. They may also experience sleep problems, digestion problems, and irritability.

    ASD is unique in that it is common for people with ASD to have many strengths and abilities in addition to challenges.

Strengths and abilities may include


Having above-average intelligence – the CDC reports 46% of ASD children to have above average intelligence

Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time

Being strong visual and auditory learners

Excelling in math, science, music, or art.

Diagnosing ASD

Diagnosing ASD

Doctors diagnose ASD by looking at a child’s behavior and development. Young children with ASD can usually be reliably diagnosed by age two.

Older children and adolescents should be evaluated for ASD when a parent or teacher raises concerns based on watching the child socialize, communicate, and play.

Diagnosing ASD in adults is not easy. In adults, some ASD symptoms can overlap with symptoms of other mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, getting a correct diagnosis of ASD as an adult can help a person understand past difficulties, identify his or her strengths, and obtain the right kind of help.