Autism spectrum disorder impacts how a child perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in crucial areas of development — social interaction, communication and behavior.
Some children show signs of ASD in early infancy. Other children may develop normally for the first few months or years of life, but then suddenly become withdrawn or aggressive or lose language skills they've already acquired.
Each child with ASD is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior and level of severity — from low functioning to high functioning. Severity is based on social communication impairments and the restrictive and repetitive nature of behaviors, along with how these impact the ability to function.
Because of the unique mixture of symptoms shown in each child, severity level can sometimes be difficult to determine. However, within the range (spectrum) of symptoms, below are some common ASD actions and behaviors.
If you believe you child may have Autism Spectrum Disorder, click here to take our quiz. It is your first step toward determining if further evaluation is needed.
Because ASD varies widely in severity, making a diagnosis may be difficult, especially because there is not a specific medical test to determine the disorder. Instead, a variety of tests are utilized that may include cognitive, developmental, social, language, adaptive, and emotional/behavioral functioning. The evaluations are conducted in the office and include observations of the child, administration of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule - Second Edition (ADOS-2), a diagnostic interview, parent questionnaires, and teacher questionnaires (if applicable). This also includes several hours of observing your child and determining how your child's social interactions, communication skills, and behavior have developed and changed over time. It is common to include other specialists (speech and language therapists; occupational therapists; neurologists; developmental pediatricians) to assist in determining a diagnosis. It may also be recommended that your child be referred for genetic testing to identify whether your child has a genetic disorder such as fragile X syndrome or other various genetic conditions linked to ASD.
Jaymie L. Fox, Psy.D. is a Georgia licensed psychologist who has worked with the pediatric population for over 20 years in a variety of clinical settings. Dr. Fox’ primary specialty focuses on the assessment of neurodevelopmental disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as neurocognitive deficits secondary to other acute and chronic medical or genetic conditions.