Autism Spectral Disorder (ASD) is a neurological condition that impacts how a person socializes with others, and may include a propensity to perform repetitive behaviors. It’s called a spectral disorder because the severity of the symptoms varies widely among patients, with some showing mild impairment and others severe disability.
On March 27, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on the prevalence of autism in the United States. This surveillance study identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys, and 1 in 189 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder.
Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a high functioning form of ASD, used to be diagnosed as a seperate disorder, but after 2014 it is now considered to be part of the broader category of ASD.
People with ASD may miss social cues that are obvious to others, as well as having a degree of difficulty making and maintaining eye contact.
People with ASD will present with varying degrees of the following symptoms:
- Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others
- Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities
- Symptoms that typically are recognized in the first two years of life
- Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life
- Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled.1
Treatments for Autism Spectral Disorder
Traditional therapies are limited to medication and behavioral therapies, both of which can provide some assistance with the wide range of challenges someone on the spectrum of autism might encounter. Modalities can include social skills training, speech therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication may also be given in more severe cases, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antipsychotic drugs, and stimulants.