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What are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?

Autism, what exactly is it? In short, it is one of several disorders grouped into the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) category. PDD describes a group of disorders characterized by a variety of impairments within a number of areas of development. The Autism Society of America defines autism as "a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills."

Children as well as adults with autism generally have trouble with social interactions, leisure or play activities, as well as verbal and non-verbal communication abilities. Many cases include poor communication skills, affecting both speech and language. This, in turn, interferes with the ability to express needs and desires, resulting in the use of gestures and alternative communication means. Autism is a spectrum disorder, suggesting that every individual is affected differently and that two children both diagnosed with autism can behave completely differently from each other. Early diagnosis is critical and learning the signs of autism can give way to many beneficial intervention programs for children.

Although autism varies greatly between individuals it can still be defined by certain behaviors. Children as well as adults can have any combination of characteristics listed below.

These characteristics include, but are not limited to:

There are several behaviors that signal the need for further evaluation. For instance, does the child babble or coo by 12 months? Are there gestures like waving or pointing by 12 months? Are single words produced by 16 months? Are two-word phrases produced on their own by 24 months? Has there been any type of language or social loss at any age? These are crucial milestones in language development. Difficulty meeting these stages in speech and language may suggest early signs of autism.

Autism in and of itself is a very large topic that is continuously being looked at and discussed. With each day we acquire more and more knowledge in terms of assessment, treatment, and support. Although we do not have a concrete answer as to what causes autism, we do have great tools and resources for both the individuals with autism and their families.

Article Index

CAPD (also called APD) testing

CAPD Therapy

Causes of Hearing Loss in Children?

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

Cochlear Implants: Could this help your child with a hearing impairment?

Early Developmental Milestones for Language

Enriching Your Child's Vocabulary

From Speaking to Writing: How to Help Your Child Write Short Sequences

Helping Your Child Learn to Read

Home Treatment for Language Delayed Kids

How Stuttering is Treated, and What You Can Do to Help

How to Crack the Tough Nut of English Spelling

Is It Normal Disfluency or Stuttering in Preschoolers

Lyme Disease and Language Disorders

Multisensory Approaches to Teaching Decoding: What Does That Mean

PECS: A Communication System for Children on the Autistic Spectrum

Phonemic Awareness: What Is It, and Why Do People Talk About It

Simple Strategies for Creating Strong Readers

Speech Vitamins: do they work?

Techniques for Improving Your Child's Literacy Skills

Testing Procedures for Speech, Language and Reading Disorders

The Connection Between Word Retrieval Difficulties (language) and Reading Disorders (literacy)

Using Literacy Activities to Increase Your Child's Knowledge of Current Events and History

Vocal Hygiene ? the DOs and DON'Ts of Maintaining a Healthy Voice

Voice Disorders

What are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?

What are the Causes of Articulation Disorders in Children?

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)?

What is Dyslexia?

What is Language Delay in Children?

What is the Connection Between Auditory Processing Disorder and Reading?

When to Seek an Evaluation for a Young Child's Speech Production