Autism Spectrum Disorder: What is it? by Carolyn Bulmash

March 15, 2015

Autism Spectrum Disorder: What is it?
By Carolyn Bulmash, LCSW

Much attention has been given to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in recent years. ASD has risen in prevalence almost 120% since the year 2000. Celebrities have chimed in with their opinions on ASD, and the vaccine debate continues among parents and pediatricians. So what exactly is ASD?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to communicate and socialize with others. ASD can also result in restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of impairment or disability that people with ASD can display. Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled.

Characteristics of ASD may appear during infancy, though they generally become clear during early childhood (up to approximately age 6). Children who have ASD have poorly developed or lack appropriate skills for social interactions. This may include failure to make eye contact, playing with toys in an unusual or repetitive way, or failure to respond to their name.

Symptoms of autism may also include: delay in language development, difficulty expressing emotions or interpreting facial expressions, sensory disturbances (such as sensitivity to noises textures), sleep problems, difficulties engaging with peers, and self-injurious behaviors.

It is important to note not all children with ASD share the same characteristics or abilities. Some children may only struggle with some of the above noted characteristics, and others may struggle with all. There are numerous interventions for individuals with ASD and prognosis varies depending on the severity of symptoms.

If you have concerns about a family member with ASD, please contact Associates in Psychotherapy to schedule an appointment at (866) 220-8371. Please see our website for more details