What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined by the DSM-5 as:

Communication Challenges
Social Challenges
Repetitive or Restricted Behaviors

Communication Challenges: delayed or absent speech and/or deficits in nonverbal communication such as maintaining eye contact or understanding gestures

Social Challenges: deficits in social-emotional reciprocity and/or deficiencies in developing relationships such as difficulties with pretend play or absence of interest in peers

Repetitive or Restricted Behaviors: repetitive motor movements or speech, insistence on sameness, highly fixated interests, hypo/hyper reactivity to sensory stimuli

According to the Center of Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today. The severity of the disorder ranges on a spectrum, from barely noticeable to quite severe. Initial signs typically appear during the early childhood years. An early diagnosis combined with the necessary intervention can be the key to a successful future and can result in significant improvement of symptoms.