What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

It’s important to remember, however, that autism is a developmental disorder, which means that no single trait or behavior, on its own, is likely to suggest a child is autistic. These differences must be significant to qualify for a diagnosis. They must strongly impact the child’s ability to do age-appropriate tasks, make friends, or succeed at school.

Every child should receive well-child check-ups with a pediatrician or an early childhood health care provider. A child may receive additional screening if they have a higher likelihood of ASD or developmental problems. Children with a higher likelihood of ASD include those who have a family member with ASD, show some behaviors that are typical of ASD, have older parents, have certain genetic conditions, or who had a very low birth weight. Although popularly used as an alternative treatment for autistic people, as of 2018 there is no good evidence to recommend a gluten- and casein-free diet as a standard treatment.

Traits Shared By Non-Autistic Peers

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Varying support needs

Advances in understanding autism, its symptoms, and comorbidities have improved outcomes for individuals with autism. In recent years, more children with autism have attended school in typical classrooms and gone on to live semi-independently. However, the majority remain affected to some degree throughout their lifetime. Autism is a lifelong condition, and a wide variety of treatments can help support people with ASD. The symptoms and comorbidities—conditions occurring in the same individual—are treatable. Parents and caregivers should seek out the advice of a qualified medical professional before starting any autism treatment.

Diagnosing ASD can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable.1However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until they are much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay means that people with ASD might not get the early help they need.

Characteristics of autism may be detected in early childhood, but autism is often not diagnosed until much later. Characteristics may be detected in early childhood, but autism is often not diagnosed until much later. There’s a lot of information out there, but a few good sources are all you need to start learning about your diagnosis. People with autism may stim for fun, to ease boredom, or to cope with stress or anxiety. For example, they may twirl a string so they can watch it or focus on one sound so they can tune out another loud or stressful noise. They often do well and school and have fewer problems communicating.