Autism: Why Early Identification Is Important
Autism in the U.S. has increased by more than 119% from 2000 to 2010. According to a 2018 report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated one in 59 births in the U.S. has autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Currently, more than 3.5 million Americans live with an ASD. What exactly does that mean and what are the signs parents should be aware of? Let’s find out.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
ASD is a complex developmental disability with signs that appear during early childhood. Because it impacts individuals differently across a variety of behaviors, it is called a “spectrum condition.”
Behaviors associated with autism can include:
- Delayed learning of language
- Difficulty with conversation and eye contact
- Poor motor skills
- Sensory sensitivities
- Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
- Persistent fixation on parts of objects
What causes autism?
There is no known single cause. The generally accepted belief by researchers is that autism is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans of children with autism show differences in the structure and shape of the brain compared to scans of children who do not have autism. Heredity, genetics, medical problems and environmental factors may also play a role in brain development that results in autism.
Why is early identification of autism important?
According to the CDC, Autism is treatable and although individuals will not “outgrow” the condition, studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.
What can parents do if they are concerned about their child’s development?
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the CDC have developed a list of behaviors and Signs and Symptoms as part of the “Learn the Signs. Act Early” initiative. Parents of children up to five years old can track their child’s development milestones and have an evaluation by a multidisciplinary team if they have concerns.
If you have questions and would like to make an appointment with a pediatrician or other specialist, please complete the form on this page.