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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how people communicate and interact with the world. As its name implies, autism covers an entire spectrum of abilities and challenges.

Signs of autism:

  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact
  • Does not respond to name
  • Does not show facial expressions
  • Does not point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age
  • Does not notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age
  • Does not notice other children and join them in play by 36 months of age
  • Does not engage in pretend play
  • Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (called echolalia)
  • Plays with toys the same way every time
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Must follow certain routines
  • Engages in repetitive behaviors
  • Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

Please note:

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may not demonstrate all - or even many - of the behaviors listed here.

Related characteristics often include:

  • Delayed language skills
  • Delayed movement skills
  • Delayed cognitive or learning skills
  • Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorder
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits
  • Gastrointestinal issues (for example, constipation)
  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions
  • Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry
  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected
     
Child playing with clay

If you suspect your child may have autism:

  • Talk with your pediatrician

  • Request a developmental screening

  • Pursue further diagnostic testing, including a comprehensive autism evaluation - Miriam Learning Center offers a number of assessments, including ADOS, a comprehensive assessment for autism.

  • A diagnosis will help you obtain services to put your child on the road to success as early as possible.

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Medical Diagnosis vs. Educational Diagnosis

The criteria for medical and educational diagnoses are different. A medical diagnosis comes from the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition Text Revision (DSM-5-TR) that psychiatrists, psychologists and others who can make mental health diagnoses use. The DSM-5-TR lists symptoms and conditions that professionals use to diagnose disorders. 

On the other hand, an educational diagnosis uses the criteria outlined by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Therefore, a child may have an educational diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder but may or may not qualify for an educational diagnosis of Autism.

call 314-961-1500 to learn more