Autism Spectrum Disorder
A Mental Health Educational Series
By Paul Smith, Assistant Vice President for Residential Services
Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to a developmental disorder that is characterized by social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The condition can be diagnosed at any age, but the symptoms commonly appear during the first two years of life; hence the term ’developmental disorder’. The severity of the disorder may vary from mild to moderate to severe. Although there is currently no known cure for autism, early diagnosis and treatment is key to the child’s development.
Symptoms of autism
● Children with autism can present with a wide range of symptoms. They may include:
● Problems talking or listening
● Making very little eye contact with others
● Failing to respond to people calling their names or trying to gain their attention
● Talking extensively about one thing even if others appear uninterested
● Repetitive behaviors or unnecessarily repeating words or phrases
● Showing anger at even a slight change in their routine
● Being overly sensitive or less sensitive than others to sensory input such as noise, temperature, light, etc.
● Asides the ‘negative symptoms’ mentioned above, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder may also have unusual strengths such as
● Ability to learn detailed information and retain it for long periods
● Excelling in their academics particularly in fields such as music, science or art
● Exhibiting strong auditory or visual learning ability
What to do if you think your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder
The current recommendation is that all children should be screened for autism. As a parent or caregiver, you should talk to your healthcare provider about screening and evaluating your child for ASD. If you notice your child is exhibiting any of the behaviors described above, you should let your doctor know about your observations. Additional screening might be necessary if the doctor suspects your child has ASD. You should commence the recommended treatment plan immediately your child is diagnosed.
You may also find more information on behavioral healthcare services at www.perimeterhealthcare.com