Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disability that appears within the first three years of life. It involves impairments in the brain’s normal development of social interactions (such as being aware of other people’s feelings), verbal communication, and nonverbal communication. Children and adolescents with an ASD have difficulty understanding, interacting, and relating to others.
CDC estimates that 1 in 110 children have an ASD. ASD is more common in boys than girls. The rate of autism/ASD has increased significantly since the late 1990’s; although, it is unknown if this is due to an increased incident of this condition or an increased awareness and ability to accurately diagnose.The cause of autism is still unknown; however, it is related to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. Autism involves a broad spectrum of symptoms. Thus, a single, brief evaluation cannot predict a child’s true ability.
It is important that a team of specialists evaluate the child, and a neuropsychological evaluation is a vital part of this process. Recent research has suggested that intensive therapy, especially at early ages, can help children achieve the best outcomes. Therefore, it is vital that these children be assessed early to obtain the correct diagnosis so they may pursue early intervention services. When correctly diagnosed, treatments exist, and clinicians use behavioral management techniques and medication to help children cope with autism. Additionally, family interventions are crucial to assist and support the family in best working with their child.
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