Autism

Autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complicated condition that includes problems with communication and behavior. Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. ASD occurs in all ethnic, racial, and economic groups. Although ASD can be a lifelong disorder, treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function.

Signs & Symptoms of ASD

Common symptoms of autism include:
  • A lack of eye contact
  • A narrow range of interests or intense interest in certain topics
  • Doing something over and over, like repeating words or phrases, rocking back and forth, or flipping a lever
  • Not looking at or listening to other people
  • High sensitivity to sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem ordinary to other people
  • Not looking at things when another person points at them
  • Not wanting to be held or cuddled
  • Problems understanding or using speech, gestures, facial expressions, or tone of voice
  • Talking in a singsong, flat, or robotic voice
  • Trouble adapting to changes in routine

Autism Causes & Risk Factors

While scientists don’t know the exact causes of ASD, research suggests that genes can act together with influences from the environment to affect development in ways that lead to ASD. Although scientists are still trying to understand why some people develop ASD and others don’t, some risk factors include:

  • Having a sibling with ASD
  • Having older parents
  • Having certain genetic conditions—people with conditions such as Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and Rett syndrome are more likely than others to have ASD
  • Very low birth weight

Autism Screening & Diagnosis

There’s no cure for autism. But early treatment can make a big difference in development for a child with autism. People diagnosed with autism should know that the diagnosis does not change anything about who they are. It merely gives them a label to apply to their symptoms and experiences.

Find Help at Psychiatric Associates

Psychiatric Associates offers autism spectrum disorder evaluations. Therapy can help autistic adults and children in many ways. Therapists who specialize in autism can connect autistic people to additional services, offer coping strategies, and educate adults about life on the spectrum. A therapist can also help autistic adults talk to others about their diagnosis and manage relationship challenges. In addition, therapy can help a person cope with the social or economic barriers that may have delayed their diagnosis. To schedule an appointment, contact our coordinators today.