Autism is a broad term for complex neurobiological disorders of development known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). The other autism spectrum disorders (ASD) include Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and atypical autism. The specific symptoms will determine which category an individual falls in.
Signs of Autism
The main characteristics of autism involve social interaction, language and behaviors concerning objects and routines. The severity of symptoms can greatly vary and will play a role in how typical a lifestyle the individual will be able to live. Although early intervention can make a big difference in an autistic individual’s life, autism is a lifelong disorder. Each autism diagnosis will have its own set of symptoms and while one autistic individual may have a plethora of severe symptoms, another may only display a few mild symptoms.
- difficulty in making friends of the same age group
- inability to understand or empathize with the emotional status of other individuals
- may not respond to human interaction in a typical manner
- may not be able to control their own emotions in a manner appropriate for individual developmental levels
- not interested in developing common interests enjoyment scenarios with other people
- difficulty in developing non-verbal communication skills
- infants and toddlers may not want to be held or cuddled
- delay or inability in learning to talk
- repetitive speech or particular phrase
- unable to sustain or begin a conversation
Routines and Repetitive Behaviors
- repeatedly flapping arms
- walking on toes
- intense interest and preoccupation with particular topics
- extreme disruption can occur if a routine is altered
- compulsive behavior
April is Autism Awareness Month and there are several ways to get involved. Most importantly, educating the public about the prevalence of this disorder and the benefits of early intervention. One in 110 children will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and each child can more greatly benefit if parents and guardians are aware of the symptoms.
Organizations such as the Autism Society and Autism Speaks are both educating the public and fighting for better legislation for autistic individuals. Connect with local chapters and explore the events local businesses are sponsoring to benefit this cause.
Participate in a walk in any number of cities nationwide and remember to pin on the puzzle. The puzzle piece ribbon has become the symbol for autism awareness and should be displayed in support of the cause.
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and several buildings around the world, including the Empire State Building, will glow blue in its honor. Individuals can wear blue to show support.
If you believe your child may be showing signs of autism, contact your family physician for an immediate evaluation.