Autism Spectrum Disorder is the new diagnosis that is now being used to encompass related neurodevelopmental disorders including Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). This umbrella term now includes the entire spectrum of autism, from mild to severe.
Autism is often diagnosed by age 3, especially in children with a language delay. However, more mild cases in very verbal children are often not diagnosed until they are older. In these cases, it can be helpful for parents to know some signs to look for:
- Difficulty with transitions and insistence on routine
- Playing alone on the playground and having difficulty making friends
- Playing with toys as if they were objects (i.e. lining up cars rather than racing them)
- Lack of make-believe play
- Extreme focus on one particular interest at a time (i.e. dinosaurs, how fire alarms work)
- Avoidance of physical contact, including affection from parents
- Having one-sided conversations that only focus on the child’s interests and is not reciprocal
These are just a few examples of behaviors that can be exhibited by children on the autism spectrum. Early intervention is very important, so parents should discuss any concerns with their pediatrician and/or seek referral to a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
Live Mentally Healthy,
Dr. Heather Rogers,