Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social communication and behavioral challenges, most commonly diagnosed as autistic disorder, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder.

  • Individuals with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people. ASDs are spectrum disorders, which means they affect each person differently and can range from very mild to severe.
  • Individuals with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, unusual behaviors and interests and many have intellectual disability.
  • Individuals with Asperger Syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests; however, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.

Individuals who have some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger Syndrome; but not all, may be diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD).

Signs and symptoms of ASDs:

Symptoms typically begin before the age of three and last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms can improve over time. Some children with ASDs show hints of future challenges within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms seem to develop normally until around 18-24 months of age and then stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they previously had.

  • Don't respond to their name by 12 months of age
  • Don't point at objects to show interest play “pretend” games
  • Avoids eye contact and wants to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel

Learn more:

If you suspect your child might have an ASD or you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks or behaves, contact your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation of your child.

For more information, visit the National Autism Association website.

Credit:  Frontier Behavioral Health.  Used with permission.