Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that influences development in the brain and can cause problems with thinking, feeling, language, and the ability to socially interact with others. However, this disorder affects individuals differently depending on where they fall on the “spectrum”. Autism arises from a combination of genetic and environmental changes.
Genetic components are believed to play a role in most cases. There are also likely environmental influences that contribute to the development of ASD before or during birth.
There are several conditions that now fall under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) category based on current diagnostic criteria, such as Asperger’s syndrome.
Did You Know?
According to the CDC, Autism Spectrum Disorder is estimated to affect 1 out of 54 children in the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Some signs of ASD may be apparent at an early age, while others only become recognized later in life. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Difficulty with social interactions, such as difficulty communicating and making friends
- Intense or repetitive interests that can lead to a detailed knowledge of a subject or an unusual focus on objects or topics. This may include being fascinated by numbers, symbols, lists, charts, computers, train schedules or anything else that has order to it. An intense interest in letters or numbers is very common.
- Individuals with ASD may also have problems with daily living skills, such as personal hygiene and dressing appropriately for the weather.
- Difficulty carrying out a conversation can be another sign of ASD. Affected children may not understand the “give-and-take” nature of a conversation, resulting in one-sided interactions.
- ASD can also affect language development. Children with ASD may have delayed language or not speak at all. Some children do not produce expressive language (output) until later than usual, while others repeat phrases verbatim without understanding what they are saying. Sometimes individuals will mix up pronouns, for example saying “you” instead of “I”.
- Individuals with ASD also may engage in repetitive movements, such as rocking their body or flapping their hands. Repetitive behaviors are another general sign of autism. They may develop routines and become upset if these daily patterns are changed or disrupted.
ASD is generally diagnosed during childhood and is a lifelong condition. There is no single test to diagnose ASD. Instead, ASD is diagnosed after a physical exam, discussion of your child’s medical history, a review of symptoms, and ruling out other conditions that cause similar physical symptoms.
Official Autism testing is typically conducted by a psychologist who evaluates the patient in a variety of social and play settings, and interviews may be conducted with teachers, or other relevant adults. Oftentimes, multiple observation sessions are required to determine if ASD is present and to what extent.
We do not conduct this extensive psychological testing for Autism at Florida Family Psychiatry but will conduct a preliminary examination to determine if this intensive psychological testing should be pursued further and we provide medical and psychiatric medication management for patients with Autism.
There is no cure for ASD, nor is there a single treatment. Your child’s treatment plan will be focused on reducing symptoms in order to increase your child’s ability to function, develop, and learn.
For the best treatment outcomes, early intervention during the preschool years is recommended. Typically, you can expect to work with a team of professionals to get your child the right treatment. Treatments for ASD can include: behavioral and communication therapies, education therapy, family therapy, possible speech and/or occupational therapy, and medications to help reduce psychiatric symptoms.
- Start Here: a guide for parents of autistic kids
- NIH Brochure on ASD
- Parents Support Tool Kit
- Grandparents Guide to Autism
- Friends Guide to Autism
- Financial Planning Tool Kit
- Challenging Behaviors Tool Kit
- Autism Safety Tool kit
- Navigating College: A Handbook on Self Advocacy
- Roadmap to Transition: A Handbook for Autistic Youth Transitioning to Adulthood
- Accessing Home and Community-Based Services: A Guide for Self Advocates
- A Self Advocate’s Guide to Managed Long-Term Services and Supports
- A Self-Advocate’s Guide to Medicaid
Florida-Specific Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Materials:
Florida’s Bureau of Exceptional Student Education a supports school districts and others in their efforts to provide exceptional student education programs for students ages 3 – 21 who have disabilities and students who are gifted.
- Visualization Skills for Reading Comprehension (Six-Minute Thinking Skills)
- Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking
- Knowing Why: Adult-Diagnosed Autistic People on Life and Autism
- Dragon and His Friend: A Dragon Book about Autism. A Cute Children Story to Explain the Basics of Autism at a Child’s Level
- And Straight on Till Morning: Essays on Autism Acceptance (Kindle Edition)
- Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s | Audiobook
- I Am Utterly Unique
- Little Rainman: Autism–Through the Eyes of a Child
- Nobody Nowhere: The Remarkable Autobiography of an Autistic Girl
- What It Is to Be Me!
- Freaks, Geeks and Aspergers Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence
Some of the contents of this Florida Family Psychiatry (FFP) webpage were sourced from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the National Institute of Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Autism Speaks, and their affiliates.
The content on this page should be used for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. FFP has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the content on this website. However, the information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind.
FFP does not accept any liability or responsibility for the content, accuracy, completeness, reliability or legality of the content on this website. FFP does not endorse or recommend any products or services. Additionally, external parties may not use any information on this website for advertising or product endorsement purposes.