What Is Autism?

If your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, you may be feeling a mixture of emotions. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel panic, fear, distress, or confusion, or a combination of more than one of these emotions. The important thing for you to do now is to educate yourself. Knowing the facts about autism will help you understand your child’s condition so that you can find the resources you need to help your child thrive.

What is autism? It’s a broad range of conditions, which in 2013 were grouped together under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). People with ASD experience challenges with social skills, repetitive or stereotypical behavior, speech, and nonverbal communication. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that autism affects about one in fifty-nine children in the United States. Indicators of autism are typically evident by age two or three. In some cases, associated developmental delays can appear even earlier, and it can be diagnosed in children as young as 18 months. Research indicates that early intervention is a key factor in positive outcomes later in life for individuals with ASD.

There are many subtypes to ASD, and most are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Each person with ASD is unique and has a different set of strengths and challenges, and people with ASD can range in functioning in terms of how they learn, think, and solve problems. Some people with ASD need significant support in their daily lives. Other people, on the other hand, need less support and may even be able to live entirely independently.

There are many factors that can influence the development of autistic spectrum disorder. The condition is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and may include comorbid medical issues that include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, or sleep disorders. People with ASD also have a higher likelihood of encountering mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, and attention issues.

A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder can be unnerving, but you are not alone. As you learn more about the condition, you’ll be able to better understand your child and you’ll find support and resources to help your child thrive. Like everyone else, each child with ASD has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and as you learn more you’ll be able to build on your child’s strengths and find targeted interventions to address his or her weaknesses.

If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.644.7827.

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