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Autism Spectrum Disorder

According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 1 in 36 children in the United States are affected by autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder demonstrate deficits in the ability to communicate and interact with others. Consistent, repetitive behaviors can limit the ability to perform skills at their age level. Scientifically – there is no medical test that definitively concludes a child has autism. Doctors evaluate a child’s social communication, peer interaction and overall behaviors to determine if an autism diagnosis is accurate.

Typically, Autism is more prevalent in boys than girls. In fact, only 1 in 4 cases of ASD occur in females. Autism Spectrum Disorder is found in every country on the planet and in every race and ethnicity. Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a spectrum - meaning that each individual diagnosed with autism is unique and has his or her own set of strengths and challenges, and each individual likely requires different levels of support. 

Signs of Autism typically appear by the age 2 or 3 and can be diagnosed as early as 18 months.  Signs of Autism can appear at various times and intensity in individuals.  Not all individuals show all the signs.  Individuals who do not have autism may show a few of the signs.  Having an evaluation by highly trained and qualified staff is crucial to determining whether an Autism diagnosis is appropriate.

Research has shown that early intervention can lead to positive outcomes for individuals diagnosed with Autism, with earlier intervention showing the most success in teaching appropriate behavior and minimizing the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  

Symptoms of Autism: 

  • Deficits in social communication or social interaction​​

    • May lose acquired speech or may not speak

    • Difficulty recognizing emotions and intentions of others or their own emotions

    • May feel overwhelmed in social situations

    • May not show appropriate distance in personal space

  • Lack of facial expressions

  • Lack of eye contact

  • Restricted or repetitive behavior, interests, or activities

    • Repetitive body movements: rocking, flapping hands, spinning, running back and forth

    • Repetitive motions with objects: spinning wheels, flipping levers, shaking sticks

    • Ritualistic behaviors: lining up objects, completing routines in a specific order

    • Need for unvarying routine/resistant to change: same daily schedule, clothes, route to school

Each individual diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder is unique with his or her own strengths, challenges, and support needs. Some individuals with Autism require significant support in their day to day activities, whereas others may require less support.  Autism spectrum disorder diagnoses are often accompanied by a level of support that may be required.  Individual cases are often considered between Level 1 to Level 3 on the spectrum:

  • Level 1: Restricted, Repetitive Behaviors “Requiring Support”

  • Level 2: Social Communication “Requiring Substantial Support”

  • Level 3: Severity level “Requiring Very Substantial Support”


For more information and resources on Autism Spectrum Disorder, visit our resources page for additional links and helpful tips. 

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