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Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a condition defined by  abnormal or impaired development in social interaction and communication and the presence of repetitive behaviors and restricted interests.  ASD is considered a “spectrum disorder,” because the severity of impairment varies from person to person and can change over time as a result of intervention. For example, one child with ASD may struggle to learn to use words to communicate while another may be capable of carrying on a long conversation, but will only care to talk about certain topics. Many show a strong aptitude in one area, while remaining weak in others. Some professionals may refer to individuals as being “on the spectrum."

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About CARD

 

(Center for Autism and Related Disabilities)

About ASD

(Autism Spectrum Disorders)

Persons with ASD often have difficulty interacting with others, learning to play with peers, and developing friendships, even though some may be very interested in having friends. They often have difficulty using and understanding eye contact, facial expressions, and social rules. They can be unaware of the interests and perspectives of other people, and may, therefore, become socially isolated and misunderstood.  Communication may be absent, but may also be rich in vocabluary with little respect for the give and take of conversation. Specific indicators include deficits in social- emotional reciprocity, noverbal behaviors used for social interaction, and developing and maintaining relationships.

Social Interaction & Communication Challenges.

Some persons with autism may engage in repetitive behavior, like switching a light on and off, spinning, or rocking. Some may play with toys in an unusual manner, like lining toy cars up instead of pretending to drive them. They may insist on doing the same thing in the same way, and may have difficulty with changes to their surroundings or routines. Individuals with ASD also have difficulty processing information from their senses. For example, they may dislike the feel of certain fabrics or the texture of certain foods. Some individuals are very active and have difficulty with sleep. Some engage in challenging behavior, such as aggression, self-injury or severe withdrawal. Specific indicators include stereotyped or repetitive speech, motor movements, or use of objects, excessive adherence to routines; ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior and resistance to change; and highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus; and hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment.

Interests and Behavior.

ASD occurs 4 to 5 times more often in boys than in girls. Symptoms are present before the age of three, although diagnosis may occur later. ASD affects individuals from all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.  Rates are estimated at 1 in every 68 children.

Incidence

Nobody knows what causes ASD. Scientists believe that there are chemical and biological differences in how the brain functions, and there may be genetic factors involved. Parents do not cause autism spectrum disorders. No factors in a child’s experience or in parenting styles are responsible for ASD.

Cause

ASD is a lifelong disability, but with intensive and early intervention, individuals with ASD can and do make excellent progress and improve their quality of life. While there is no known cure for ASD, there are many intervention strategies designed to address the problems associated with ASD.

Prognosis

ASD occurs 4 to 5 times more often in boys than in girls. Symptoms are present before the age of three, although diagnosis may occur later. ASD affects individuals from all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.  Rates are estimated at 1 in every 68 children.

Incidence

Deficits in social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behavior are general characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders,  Some children develop speech, and then regress, or lose communication skills. Others echo or repeat what they hear. Many individuals with ASD do learn to talk, while others rely on technology, sign or pictures to communicate. However, conversational skills, gestures and non-verbal communication  remain difficult for most individuals with ASD.

Characteristics