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 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
Here is a great visual representation and description of Autism Spectrum Disorder from National Center for Learning Disabilities:
What are the signs of Asperger’s Syndrome, now known as 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.
It is not uncommon for adults with HF ASD to be misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and personality disorders such as Borderline, Narcissistic, or Obsessive Compulsive personality disorders, as well as other diagnoses.
Nonverbal communication difficulties, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and difficulty reading others' nonverbal cues.
Unlike ASD, people with High Functioning ASD do not necessarily experience early language development difficulties. In some cases, verbal skills are superior and vocabulary is advanced.
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.
It is important to note that characteristics for people on the spectrum vary widely and professional opinion is necessary for diagnosis. 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.
Autism Spectrum Disorder in Women
Autism Spectrum Disorder (formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome) often presents differently in women. A growing body of research suggests that, at least among those without intellectual impairment, women with ASD differ from the classic presentation outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). Compared with boys, these girls:
Tend to internalize their emotions—which could spur anxiety, depression or eating disorders—in contrast to males’ externalizing behavior that shows up as hyperactivity or noncompliant behavior (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and European Eating Disorders Review).
This TED talk showcases a young woman bringing awareness to how symptom presentation in women and lack of clinical awareness, leads to women with Autism to be misdiagnosed, misunderstood or missed altogether.
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. -
Wrong Planet - https://wrongplanet.net/