Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a lifelong neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood. ASD refers to a range of conditions marked by challenges with social skills, restricted and repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as unique differences and strengths. ASD impacts 1 in 68 children in the United States (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls), and approximately 1 percent of the world population has ASD. The most evident signs of ASD tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, ASD can be diagnosed as early as 18 months; certain developmental delays associated with ASD can be identified and addressed even earlier.
The term “spectrum” refers to the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each individual with autism. Some of the behaviors associated with ASD include delayed learning of language, difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation, difficulty with executive functioning, self-injurious behaviors, narrow and intense interests, low frustration tolerance, poor motor skills, and sensitivities to sensory input.
There is no known single cause of autism, and research suggests that both genetics and environment play important roles. Although there is no “cure” for ASD, symptoms can be targeted and improved with therapies and behavioral interventions. Early diagnosis and access to effective intervention leads to significantly improved outcomes.
ASD-oriented services at BCSC: