While autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are diagnosed between 1 in 68 children to as high as 1 in 42 boys, depending on the source, those who have been diagnosed with an ASD still often have so much confusion about their disorder. Here is a series of questions and answers that may help clear up any confusion about this disease.
1. What is autism spectrum disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect communication and social interaction. It includes autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
2. What are the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder?
Symptoms of ASD can vary significantly from person to person, but may include difficulty with communication and social interaction, repetitive behaviors or interests, sensory sensitivities, and in some cases intellectual disability.
3. How is autism spectrum disorder diagnosed?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as diagnosis of ASD can be tricky and may require input from a variety of professionals. Generally, doctors will look for symptoms that are characteristic of ASD, and may use diagnostic tools such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) or the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R).
4. What is the treatment for autism spectrum disorder?
There is no cure for ASD because it is not a disease, but early treatment can help children and families with symptoms. Treatment usually includes a combination of therapies such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral analysis programs, and social skills groups.
5. What causes autism spectrum disorder?
There is no definite answer to this question yet, although research has brought us closer to understanding the causes. There is thought to be a genetic component, and while there is no one gene that can cause ASD, several genes have been shown to be associated with it. In addition, studies have found evidence of abnormalities (Neurodivergence) in brain structure and function in people with ASD, although exactly what’s going on is unclear.
6. Can autism spectrum disorder be cured?
There is no cure for ASD because it is not an illness or disease, but early treatment can help children and families with symptoms.
7. I think my child may have autism spectrum disorder. What should I do?
If you think your child may have ASD, the best thing to do is to talk to your pediatrician. Your doctor can assess your child for ASD and make a referral to a specialist if needed.