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Autism is a complex developmental
disability that causes problems with social interaction and
communication. Symptoms usually start before age three and can cause
delays or problems in many different skills that develop from infancy to
an autism spectrum disorder?
with autism can have very different symptoms. Health care providers
think of autism as a “spectrum” disorder, a group of disorders with
similar features. One person may have mild symptoms, while another may
have serious symptoms. But they both have an autism spectrum disorder.
the autism spectrum disorder category includes:
disorder (also called “classic” autism)
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise
Specified (or atypical autism)
In some cases, health care
providers use a broader term, pervasive developmental disorder,
to describe autism. This category includes the autism spectrum
disorders above, plus Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett
This Web site uses “autism spectrum disorder” and
“autism” to mean the same thing.
What are the symptoms of autism?
The main signs and symptoms of autism involve problems
in the following areas:
- Communication - both verbal (spoken) and
non-verbal (unspoken, such as pointing, eye contact, and smiling)
- Social -
such as sharing emotions, understanding how others think and feel, and
holding a conversation
- Routines or repetitive behaviors (also
called stereotyped behaviors) - such as repeating words or actions,
obsessively following routines or schedules, and playing in repetitive
The symptoms of autism can usually be observed by 18
months of age.
There are many possible red
flags for autism - behaviors that may be signs or symptoms of
autism. Some features may mean a delay in one or more areas of
development, while others may be more typical of autism spectrum
disorders. If you think your child shows red flags for autism, talk to
your health care provider.
What are the treatments for autism?
There is no cure for autism, nor is there one
single treatment for autism spectrum disorders. But there are ways to
help minimize the symptoms of autism and to maximize learning.
therapy and other therapeutic options
- Behavior management
therapy helps to reinforce wanted behaviors, and reduce unwanted
behaviors. It is often based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
therapists can help people with autism improve their ability to
communicate and interact with others.
- Occupational therapists
can help people find ways to adjust tasks to match their needs and
- Physical therapists design activities and exercise to
build motor control and improve posture and balance.
and/or school-based options
- Public schools are required to
provide free, appropriate public education from age 3 through high
school or age 21, whichever comes first.
- Typically, a team of
people, including the parents, teachers, caregivers, school
psychologists, and other child development specialists work together to
design an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to help guide the child’s
- Medication options
there are no medications that can cure autism spectrum disorders or all
of the symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not
approved any medications specifically for the treatment of autism, but
in many cases medication can treat some of the symptoms associated with
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs),
tricyclics, psychoactive/anti-psychotics, stimulants, and anti-anxiety
drugs are among the medications that a health care provider might use to
treat symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.
- Secretin—a hormone
that helps digestion—is not recommended as a treatment for autism.
Is there a
link between autism and vaccines?
no conclusive scientific evidence that any part of a vaccine or
combination of vaccines causes autism, even though researchers have done
many studies to answer this important question. There is also no proof
that any material used to make or preserve the vaccine plays a role in
Although there have been reports of studies that
relate vaccines to autism, these findings have not held up under further
Currently the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) provides the most accurate and up-to-date
information about research on autism and vaccines. Its Vaccines
and Autism Theory web site provides information from the
federal government and from independent organizations about vaccines and
more common in certain groups of people?
groups are at higher-than-normal risk for autism spectrum disorders,
- Siblings of those with autism
with certain other developmental disorders, such as Fragile
The following information, which has been distilled by the casebook author from this and other websites is particularly relevant to this casebook.
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Nature paper on paternal age and autism
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This web-site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your doctor.
It should not to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment.