Skip To Main Content

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.


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