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Autism spectrum disorders

Autism spectrum disorders

Autism spectrum disorders

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have impaired communication and social interaction. Some children with ASD may also have repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities. ASD affects the way that individuals are able to interact with others.

What are the different types of Autism Specturm Disorder?

ASD exists on a spectrum of symptoms and severity. The term spectrum means that no two people with ASD are alike. Each has a unique combination of characteristics.

What causes Autism Specturm Disorder?

Medical experts don’t really know what causes ASD. Researchers are studying whether certain genes may be the cause or whether certain areas of the brain may be affected due to brain development and growth. Some medical experts believe genetics and the environment may also play a role in ASD.

What are the symptoms?

Early indicators include a lack of babbling before 10 months, no single words by 16 months, two-word phrases by age 2 years. Other signs include poor eye contact, no response when you call the child’s name and a loss of language or social skills. Excessive lining up of toys or objects or a lack of social responses and smiles is also common.

Later indicators include an absence or impairment of imaginative and social play, stereotyped, repetitive or unusual use of language and restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus. Preoccupation with certain objects or subjects, an inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals and an impaired ability to make friends with peers or sustain a conversation can also be seen.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosing ASD can be challenging because there is no blood test. Trained specialists such as a pediatric neurologist or psychologist will usually do a clinical evaluation on your child. They may also look at symptom criteria. Specialists usually use a guide such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM); published by the American Psychiatric Association. Mental health experts use the DSM manual to help them diagnose mental conditions. Specialists may also use specific testing to make a diagnosis. The testing may also be used after treatment to check whether your child is responding to treatment.

How can Autism Specturm Disorder be treated?

Early intervention such as speech and occupational therapy are crucial during the first few years. The development of language skills will help families cope as the child grows and transitions into school. Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapies have been shown to improve the core features of ASD when implemented early and intensively. Medications can also help treat possible inattentiveness, depression, obsessive-compulsive behaviors or anxiety symptoms.

How we can help

At the neurodevelopmental clinic at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu, it is our goal for children with autism spectrum disorder to reach their potential and contribute to society.

If you are interested in learning more, we would be happy to discuss ways that our team can help your child reach his/her potential. Please feel free to contact us.

Neurodevelopmental Clinic
Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu
1310 Punahou Street
Honolulu, HI 96826


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