Autism: The Importance of Early Diagnosis

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Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), is a general term for a group of complex, brain-based disorders that affect a person’s brain development, communication skills, and social interaction in varying degrees.

Although every child develops at a different pace, there are developmental milestones all children should reach by a certain age. In many cases, the signs and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between the ages of 18 months to 3 years, so if you notice your child is not meeting milestones, talk to his or her doctor right away. Early diagnosis and intervention can often make a positive and significant difference for the child.

Early signs and symptoms of autism:
Social challenges: failure to respond to name, reduced interest in people, delayed babbling, do not imitate others, difficulty regulating emotions

Communication difficulties: delayed speech and gestures, difficulty understanding body language and expressions

Repetitive behaviors: hand-flapping, rocking, jumping, repeating sounds or words, rearranging objects, need for consistency

Following diagnosis
As spectrum disorders, it is important for parents to understand that ASDs affect each child and adult in different ways and to varying degrees. Education and research about your child’s diagnosis and the therapy options available is a great place to start. Any autism intervention plan should be tailored to your child’s specific needs.

Autism intervention may involve behavioral treatments, including parent training and work with the entire family. Also, many people with autism have additional medical conditions that should be addressed.

Interventions can change and evolve as your child develops, especially when he or she enters school and is introduced to new social settings. In general, an intervention plan usually involves a multidisciplinary team to help your child and the family with unique needs. ​