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April is Autism Acceptance Month

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder. Symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life. Autism may not be recognized or diagnosed until much later. It can be diagnosed at any age. A person with autism has a brain that works differently. The way they respond to things may be different. It can affect the way a person gets along and communicates with others. 

It can also affect how a person behaves and can make it difficult for a person to do the things that others do easily. People with autism can be very sensitive to certain things. Some children with ASD may:

  • Not act like other children their own age;
  • Prefer to be alone;
  • Not make eye contact;
  • Not like touching or hugging people;
  • Have trouble saying their thoughts and feelings;
  • Communicate without words, like using pictures or sign language;
  • Always want things the same way;
  • Get upset when something changes; or
  • React strongly to certain sounds or noises.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can get help. Behavioral health services can help children and their families with the challenges of autism. Every child should receive well-child checkups with a pediatrician or an early childhood health care provider. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children be checked for developmental delays at 9, 18, 24 or 30-month well-child visits. They recommend checking for autism at 18 and 24-month well-child visits. Additional evaluation might be needed if a child is at high risk for ASD or developmental problems.

Children at high risk include those who:

  • Have a family member with ASD;
  • Have some ASD symptoms;
  • Have older parents;
  • Have certain genetic conditions; and
  • Were born at a very low birth weight.

If you feel your loved one or child may have ASD, you can see a professional. Your primary care doctor/pediatrician can refer you to a provider who does evaluations for ASD. Make an appointment. Talk about your concerns.

For more information on autism spectrum disorder, read here.

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