If you are a parent dealing with a child on the autism spectrum, you may have heard many different terms, including high-functioning autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, atypical autism, autism spectrum disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. Understandably, there is a great deal of confusion about the names of various autism-related disorders and what it means to have a child diagnosed on the autism spectrum. In 2013, The American Psychiatric Association attempted to simplify matters by combining the list of developmental disorders into a single diagnostic classification called Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Every child on the autism spectrum has unique abilities, symptoms, and challenges. Learning about the different autism spectrum disorders will help you better understand your own child, get a handle on what all the different autism terms mean, and make it easier to communicate with the doctors, teachers, and therapists helping your child. Here are 5 things to know about Autism Spectrum Disorder:
- Autism is not a single disorder, but a group of closely related disorders referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Some professionals speak of “the autisms” to avoid addressing the sometimes subtle differences among the conditions along the autism spectrum, as they share a list of common core symptoms.
- ASD is the fastest growing developmental disorder. The prevalence of ASD has risen to 1 in 64 births, compared to 2004, when the rate was 1 in 125, according to the CDC.
- People with ASD have difficulty with social communication and interaction, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors. ASD is diagnosed based on the presence of multiple symptoms that disrupt a person’s ability to communicate, form relationships, explore, play, and learn.
- Scientists believe that both genetics and environment play a role in causing 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, as well as a very low birth weight.
- Early diagnosis and early intervention are key to improving a child's development with ASD. There is no single medical test that can diagnose it definitively; instead, in order to accurately pinpoint your child's problem, multiple evaluations and tests may be necessary. Early intervention during the preschool years will improve your child’s chances for overcoming his or her developmental delays.
Take a look at my segment with NY1 where I talk about these 5 points and the importance of talking with your health care provider about any concerns you may have with your child’s development: