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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental neurological disorder that affects a person’s communication and behavior skills.  A child or adult with ASD may show signs of difficulty socializing or using verbal or nonverbal communications.  The effects ASD has on a person can vary in severity; “the spectrum” breaks down ASD into different classifications that are more specific to certain symptoms.  As a result, the DSM-5 revised the classifications within Autism Spectrum Disorder to Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).

Recently, the CDC released their estimates regarding the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in children within the United States.  Their most recent estimates show a 15% increase in ASD in children, from 1 in 68 (2016) to 1 in 59 (2018).  This increase and those prior have served as stepping stones for extensive research and awareness movements for those with ASD. “They (estimates) urgently warrant a significant increase in life-enhancing research and access to high-quality services for people with autism across the spectrum and throughout their lifespan,” says Angela Geiger, Autism Speaks President and CEO.  While there is no cure or affirmed reason why this disorder affects people, research has provided a great look into signs and symptoms that can contribute to early detection.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder often show signs and symptoms over time; while some may show several, others may only show a few.  Signs typically develop before age three, when a child is working towards certain developmental milestones. However, there are also cases of consistent development until 18-24 months, followed by a plateau or regression of skills they may have had before.   

Common Signs

  • Difficulty Interacting i.e., verbal and nonverbal communications, difficulty listening or making eye contact.
  • Being unresponsive to sounds such as their name by 12 months old.
  • Difficulty understanding the relationships and feelings of others or their own.
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Overly focused interested on certain objects, movements, or topics.
  • Delayed speech and language skills.
  • Difficulty adapting to change in routine.

Additionally, there are many areas that someone with ASD may excel in.  These could consist of processes like remembering number sets and other information, having a strong passion for specific interests, and being a strong visual learner.