What is Autism?
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning the severity and display of symptoms can vary among individuals. If you suspect your child may have autism, it’s important to recognize the signs early and seek professional guidance for an accurate diagnosis.
Discover more about Bright Start Possibility's Autism Diagnostic Services available in Arizona, Colorado, and Texas.
Top 5 Signs That May Indicate Autism:
1. Social Interaction Challenges
Children with autism may encounter difficulties in social interactions. They might struggle with eye contact, responding to their name, or engaging in back-and-forth conversations. For instance, a child may shy away from making eye contact and rarely show a smile or respond when someone attempts to initiate a conversation.
2. Repetitive and Restricted Behaviors
Some children with autism may exhibit repetitive behaviors or show intense interests in specific subjects. They may engage in repetitive movements like hand flapping, rocking, or spinning. Additionally, they might focus intensely on particular objects or topics, often to the exclusion of other activities. For example, a child may spend hours organizing their toys by color or become fixated on a single topic, discussing it for extended periods.
3. Communication Challenges
Language and communication difficulties are common in autism. Children may experience delayed speech or find it challenging to express their needs and emotions verbally. Some may not speak at all and rely on alternative communication methods. For instance, a child may struggle to understand and use words, phrases, or gestures to convey their desires or emotions.
4. Sensory Sensitivities
Children with autism may exhibit sensory sensitivities, where they are either overly sensitive or underreact to sensory stimuli. They may be hypersensitive to noise, light, textures, or smells, leading to distress or avoidance behaviors. For example, a child might cover their ears or become upset by loud sounds that others find tolerable.
5. Difficulty with Changes in Routine
Children with autism often prefer consistency and may become upset or anxious when there are disruptions in their routines. They may insist on following a specific sequence of activities and find it challenging to adapt to new situations. For instance, a child might become distressed or agitated when their daily schedule is unexpectedly altered.
If you notice these signs in your child, what should you do next?
The Diagnosis Process
Obtaining an official autism diagnosis involves a comprehensive assessment by healthcare professionals, such as pediatricians, psychologists, or developmental specialists. They will observe your child's behavior, conduct interviews with you as the parent or caregiver, and may use standardized tests to gather information. The specific assessment depends on the child's age, developmental level, and the clinician's expertise.
At Bright Start Possibility, our Licensed Psychologist employs gold-standard assessments like the ADOS-2, Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, and the Childhood Autism Rating Scale - Second Edition. The ADOS-2 assessment involves direct interaction with the child being evaluated to identify a pattern of behaviors consistent with autism spectrum disorder. Our Licensed Psychologist will assess the child's social communication abilities, play skills, and restricted or repetitive behaviors to provide a thorough diagnosis.