What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that causes issues with social communication and interaction, verbal and non-verbal skills, and motor skills. Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means it varies from person to person and no two people with autism have the same symptoms. Symptoms are generally apparent in infancy, 18-24 months, but become more pronounced from 24 months to 6 years. High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms may not be as apparent until later in life. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Download this Parent Starter Kit from the American Autism Association for more information. You can also take this test online to see if your concerns about your child warrant a professional opinion/evaluation. For children under the age of 30 months, you can take this screener on the Autism Speaks website. The following are possible signs of autism:
Babies and toddlers:
- By 6 months:
- not smiling or other warm, joyful expressions
- avoiding eye contact or demonstrating limited eye contact
- By 9 months:
- not sharing vocal sounds to show joy or upset, smiles or other nonverbal communication
- By 12 months:
- not babbling
- not using gestures to communicate, such as pointing, waving, etc.
- not responding to name when called
- By 16 months:
- not demonstrating appropriate language development
- By 24 months:
- not speaking in meaningful, two-word phrases
- demonstrating loss of any previously acquired language, or social skills
At any age:
- Preference to be by themselves, avoidance of eye contact
- Difficulties understanding others' feelings
- Continues to lack verbal skills or shows delayed language skills
- Repetition of words or phrases - echolalia
- Strong preference for routine and becoming upset when routine or surroundings change
- Very strong specific interests in toys/objects/subjects
- Presence of repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning
- Presence of intense reactions to sensory things, such as smells, textures, sounds, lights and/or colors
What are the signs of High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HF ASD)?
- Significant problems developing complex social communication and interaction skills. This is often more subtle than in the ASD population, since complex social skills are typically expected to develop later in life. This often leads to misdiagnosis and not seeking early help and intervention.
- Nonverbal communication difficulties, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and difficulty reading others' nonverbal cues.
- Unlike ASD, people with HF ASD do not necessarily experience early language development difficulties.
- Average to Superior intelligence is common.
- Failure to establish friendships with peers, or limited friendships and romantic relationships throughout the lifetime.
- Difficulty in romantic relationships related to deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills.
- Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.
- Difficulty identifying and expressing their feelings.
- Sensitivities to various stimuli, from sounds, to clothing, to food items.
- Restricted interests in specific objects or subjects.
- Preference for routines.
Dr. Korey specializes in assessment of children and adults with HF ASD/Asperger's Disorder. If you are an adult and suspect you may have a High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, you can take this screener test here. Please note, this is not meant to serve as a diagnostic tool, but may indicate if there is enough concern to warrant a professional opinion.
Resources For Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Autism Speaks - www.autismspeaks.org
- Georgia Asperger's Organization - http://georgiaaspergersorganization.org/
- This a great resource for adults on the Autism Spectrum: http://www.gcaspies.org/
- OASIS: Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support: www.aspergersyndrome.org
- Autism Meetups in Atlanta - http://www.meetup.com/topics/autism/us/ga/atlanta/
- ASD Support Group Links - http://www.behavior-consultant.com/support.htm
- MHDDAD (Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Addictive Diseases) - Region Three MHDDAD Office; 100 Crescent Centre Parkway, Suite 900, Tucker, GA 30084, 770-414-3052; http://mhddad.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-MHDDAD
- Autism Society of America, Greater Georgia Chapter https://www.autismsocietyga.org/
- A local Alternative Baseball Organization for teens and adults with "disadvantages." Free-to-join program that provides a social outlet, as well as to gives a place to compete for fun, and to improve baseball/softball skills. - http://alternativebaseball.wixsite.com/alternativebaseball
- Wrong Planet - https://wrongplanet.net/