Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurologically-based developmental disability that affects a child’s social skills, behavior and communication.
ASD affects 1 in 68 children, and is mostly diagnosed in boys. The number of children reported to have autism has increased in the last two decades. Nowadays, more families are aware of ASD, Pediatricians are doing more screening, and children are being identified earlier. Also, it has been categorized more, being able now to identify and provide help to milder cases.
What are the signs?
Often, there is nothing to set aside a child with ASD from other people, but they may interact, behave, communicate and learn in different ways form most other children. Their learning, thinking and problem solving abilities may range from gifted to severely challenged. Specifically, there are some differences in their social, communication and behavioral aspects that may raise a “red flag”.
• Doesn’t respond to a parent’s smile or facial expression
• Doesn’t have good eye contact
• Doesn’t point to objects or events to get a parent to look at them
• Doesn’t look at objects or events a parent is looking or pointing at
• Doesn’t show concern for others
• Unable or uninterested in making friends
• Doesn’t have appropriate facial expressions
• Doesn’t say single words by 16 months
• Doesn’t point at things to indicate needs
• Repeats what others are saying without understanding the meaning
• Doesn’t respond when you call his/her name, but responds to other sounds
• Doesn’t start or can’t continue a conversation
• Doesn’t use toys to represent real life in pretend play
• May have a good memory for numbers, letters, songs
• May lose language or social milestones between 15 and 24 months
• Likes routines, orders, rituals
• Has difficulty with change
• Rocks, spins, walks on toes for a long time, flaps hands or twirls fingers
• Plays with parts of toys instead of the whole toy
• May be sensitive to sounds, lights, textures, smells and touch
How do we screen?
Pediatricians start screening for signs of developmental delay or challenges starting at the moment babies are born. Also, during each well child check-up, specific screening questions and evaluations are done according to the child’s age. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an additional specific screening for Autism Spectrum Disorders to be performed to all children at the 18-24 month well visit. Its purpose is to be able to identify children with developmental challenges early so that they can benefit from early intervention programs.
A diagnosis of ASD includes multiple conditions that were diagnosed individually in the past, including Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Asperger Syndrome.
What to do…
If you have concerns about how your child plays, speaks, acts, learns, or moves, contact us to schedule an appointment for further evaluation. Before you go to the appointment, request a developmental milestone checklist to complete at home so we can discuss in detail and assess for any possible delays or areas of concerns. As a mom and a Pediatrician, I know that us parents know our kids best and your concerns are very important. Together, we can find a way to help your child achieve his/her maximal potential.
Is there any treatment?
There are no medications to treat ASD or its cores symptoms. However, there are some medications that can help patients with ASD function better, like for example, medications to treat depression, inability to focus or seizures. Early intervention programs and services are used to address and improve the child’s development. These services can include therapy for speech, therapy to improve motor abilities and therapies for social interactions.
We are here to help! Make a appointment for a initial evaluation and start working on a plan of care. For more information, including local resources, visit:
• Healthy Children – AAP https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/Autism/Pages/default.aspx
• CDC – Learn the Signs, Act Early http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/ccp/
• Autism Speaks – Arc of Palm Beach County https://www.autismspeaks.org/resource/arc-palm-beach-county
• Autism Project of Palm Beach County http://www.autismprojectofpalmbeachcounty.org/
by: Lizaida Medina Candelaria MD, FAAP
SuperKids Pediatrics 9121 N. Military Trail Ste. 102 Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 Phone: 561-619-2460