Autism in Children
Autism affects thousands of children with complex restrictions to their learning capabilities and activities. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 in every 110 births have autism in the United States and it affects almost 1 in 70 boys.
Although most of these children receive routine pediatric care or attend preschool programs, their problems frequently do not come to the attention of health professionals and teachers until the window of opportunity to make the most impact has past.
Autism is a complex, social developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functions of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.
Children with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, repetitive behaviors and leisure or play activities.
Types of Autism
There are several types of autism or ASDs. The most common are:
- Autistic disorder
- Asperger syndrome
- Pervasive developmental disorder (also known as atypical autism)
Children with ASDs also are prone to developing separate, co-occurring behavioral or psychiatric problems – epilepsy, Fragile X syndrome, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, or Tourette syndrome – that also may require treatment.
Symptoms of Autism
In autism, the brain does not develop normal social and communication skills. It is a developmental disorder that may include symptoms such as:
- Impaired social interactions
- Impaired spoken and non-verbal communication
- Repeated patterns of behavior
- Other complications such as seizures, gastrointestinal problems and sleep disorders
Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe. Signs of autism typically appear in the first 3 years of life, but may be diagnosed much later. However, the severity of autistic symptoms vary and manifest differently in each child.
If your child's behavior gives you a reason for concern, request a referral from your pediatrician.
Additional information about Autism
Presentations by Dr. Robin Blitz:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder: What is it? (PDF)
- Autism Diagnosis: Screening and Evaluation (PDF)
- Autism Treatment (PDF)
- Autism: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (PDF)
Education and Resources for Autism:
- About Autism
- "How Much do You Know about Autism?" Quiz
- Patient Education - Learning more about Autism
- American Academy of Pediatrics (Autism)
- Autism Society (Phoenix Chapter)
- AZ Early Intervention Program