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What Are Autism Spectrum Disorders?

‌‌Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) represent a complex development disability characterized by impaired social interactions, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive or restricted activities and interests. ASD are described as a “spectrum” of disorders because individuals with ASD vary widely in their symptom presentation and severity. Some individuals present with such mild symptoms that the disorder may go largely unnoticed by others. In more severely affected individuals, life-long support and care may be needed. In all cases, individuals with ASD or other related conditions can benefit from the appropriate treatment.

Common Early Signs of an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Difficulty responding to his/her name
Limited interest in reciprocal social activities (peek-a-boo)
Limited pointing at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over)
Limited pretending during play (pretend to "feed" a doll)
Difficulties making appropriate eye-contact
Delayed language
Having obsessive or unusual interests
Making unusual and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., flapping/waving hands or walking on tip toes)
Having unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

How are Autism Spectrum Disorders Diagnosed?

The recognized “Gold-Standard” in diagnosing an ASD requires a comprehensive evaluation completed by a professional with extensive knowledge and training related to ASD (e.g., psychologist, neurologist, developmental pediatrician). There are no blood or medical tests that can detect autism. Rather, diagnosis is based on a pattern of presenting behaviors which are clinically described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). The criteria for diagnosis focuses on deficits and atypicalities in the areas of Social-Communication and Repetitive/Restricted repertoire of behaviors.
At ASAC, our psychologists have both extensive clinical experience in the area of autism and social-communicative development and training in the most state-of-the-art diagnostic tools including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R).
Can Autism Spectrum Disorders be Treated?

There is no known cure for ASD. However, there is substantial evidence that individuals can make remarkable progress with appropriate therapies and interventions. The ideal treatment plan is one that coordinates therapies and interventions that target the core symptoms of autism: impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and obsessive or repetitive routines and interests. Most professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better