What Is Autism?

Every 8 seconds a child is diagnosed with Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD is a group of disorders that negatively impacts the developing brain causing impairment of socialization skills, communication and behaviors.   Autism may also impact cognitive functioning.  ASD can range from very mild to very severe and begins prior to age 3.  Often, the onset is seen between 12-18 months of age, but there is a sub-group that appears to have onset in early infancy.   Previously it was separated into sub-groups of Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger Syndrome.  Autism is more frequently seen in males compared to females – greater than 4 / 1 ratio.

It is characterized by:

  • Social interaction impairment:  poor eye contact, failure to develop friendships, abnormal play, prefers solitary play, misreading social cues
  • Communication impairment: delayed or lack of speech, difficulty with conversations, stereotypical language like echolalia or scripting, and/or lack of social play or imitation
  • Restricted or stereotypical patterns of behavior:  Restricted patterns of interest, inflexible rigid routines, repetitive motor mannerisms like hand flapping and preoccupation with parts of objects rather than the whole (spinning wheels on a truck versus playing with the truck)

ASD is associated with many possible symptoms.  These include:

  •                   Poor eye contact
  •                   Hand flapping
  •                   Poor sleep and reduced requirement for sleep
  •                   Narrow food choices -French fries, mac n cheese, milk
  •                   Abnormal stools – not formed or easy to pass
  •                   Low muscle tone
  •                   Sensitive to sound/ light/ activity

The symptoms of children with ASD are highly individualized from mild to severe.  There are also many underlying medical problems that contribute to the various symptoms.   There is a saying that when you see a child with autism you have seen “one” child with autism because each individual is so different.  Because of this their treatment needs to be individualized.  By treating the underlying medical conditions associated with autism  children can and do recover.

The definitive cause of autism is currently not known.  Based on 10 years of clinical practice and observation, I believe there are environmental factors involved with a weak genetic foundation that makes the individual more susceptible to damage from the toxic influences.  Autism is treatable and can be reversed.

Early diagnosis and intervention is critical to successful treatment and recovery.

The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT™) is a scientifically validated tool for screening children between the age of 16 and 30 months to assess their risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  This screening tool was developed by neuropsychologists Diana Robins and Deborah Fein and clinical psychologist Marianne Barton.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children receive autism screening at 18 and 24 months. Click here to download an 18 month’s developmental milestones list.

Screen your child now (for ages 16 to 30 months only).  This is a screening tool only – even when someone fails this they may not become autistic.