The Autism Spectrum:
Understanding the Spectrum, Supporting the Family & Child
By Julie Powell Sanniota, Ph.D.
Autism Spectrum Disorders is a term that describes a range of developmental disorders that affects brain development. Generally speaking, people with autism display problems in their ability to communicate, socialize appropriately and may have repetitive behaviors and/or restricted areas of interest. These deficits may be severe and significantly disabling and include intellectual deficits, no speech, and stereotypic and repetitive, self-stimulating behavior. On the other end of the spectrum are children with a high-functioning form of autism called Asperger’s Disorder. These folks have normal intelligence and typically developed language skills but may have interpersonal problems, communication impairments or social skill deficits.The word ‘spectrum” in ASD is important because it emphasizes the considerable individual variation found in this disorder. It is reported that one out of every 85 children have Autism Disorder and it is five times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. Some of the “red flags”:
- Lack of eye contact.
- Repetitive movements with objects or body parts.
- Delayed or no speech. Echolalia. Robotic Speech.
- Doesn’t respond to name being called.
- Plays with toys in objectified way.
- Doesn’t share interest or enjoyment with others
Early identification of any developmental issue is important because we know that while these children often don’t progress on their own; their development can be enhanced significantly with direct instruction and early intervention. If you suspect your child might have autism you can go the website, Autism Speaks to complete a very basic online screening. Parents are also encouraged to talk to their pedestrian about their concerns. Whether your child is determine to have autism or not, seeking a professional diagnosis will allow you to understand the cause of your child’s delay so that you can get the help needed to help him reach his fullest potential.
Autism Speaks www.autismspeaks.org
Diagnosis Resource www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/diagnosis
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County www.smartstartofmeck.org
Autism Society www.autism-society.org
Exceptional Children Assistance Center www.ecac/parentcenter.org
Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped children Program (TEACH) www.teeacch.com