Questions and answers about autism.

Child working with Therapist

Because autism can vary widely in its severity, and because there is no definitive test to diagnose it, it can be difficult for parents to get clear answers to their questions about autism. And yet autism is not uncommon; according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1 in 54 children has been identified as having some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is a larger category which includes various forms of autism, including Asperger syndrome.

Signs of autism can be detected early in childhood, usually before three years of age. Early intervention has been shown to improve development in many autistic children, so it’s important for parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms, and get answers to their questions about autism.

Question: What is autism?

Answer: Autism is a developmental disability characterized by repetitive behaviors and difficulties with communication and social interaction. Researchers are unclear about what causes autism, though they have identified several genes that have connections to ASD. The effects of autism vary widely; some children may be severely impaired, while others function at a high level.

Question: What are the signs and symptoms of autism?

Answer: Signs and symptoms can vary from child to child, but these are some common signs to look for:

  • Lack of verbal expression as infants—no cooing, babbling, etc.
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Avoidance of physical contact (not wanting to be held or cuddled)
  • Late development of speech skills
  • Not responding to their name
  • Difficulty maintaining conversation (in older children)
  • Repetitive speech or behavior (for example, repeating one word or phrase over and over, or rocking back and forth repeatedly)
  • Difficulty adapting to changes in routine
  • Difficulty understanding the feelings of others and expressing their own feelings
  • Lack of “pretend” play
  • Echoing back words that are said to them, rather than responding

Do vaccines cause autism?

There is no scientific evidence that vaccines are linked to the development of autism. The original 1998 paper that suggested such a link was found to be based on falsified data, and the doctor who wrote it was stripped of his license to practice medicine. Since then, there have been nine additional studies, none of which has found any link between vaccines and autism. 

Question: How is autism diagnosed?

Answer: There is no definitive medical test for autism, like a blood test. If your child exhibits early signs of autism, a healthcare professional experienced in the disorder can observe and monitor their behavior to make a diagnosis. Parents can also monitor their child’s developmental progress by using these CDC checklists of developmental milestones.

The Mary Free Bed at Covenant Center for Autism is an Approved Autism Evaluation Center, one of only 16 approved in the state of Michigan. The Center offers diagnostic screening and assessments of children who exhibit signs of ASD.    

Question: Are there treatments available for autism?

Answer: The main treatments for autism are behavioral therapies, administered by experienced professionals, like our team at the Center for Autism. At the Center, each child receives an individualized treatment plan to meet their unique needs. Treatments used include:

  • One-on-one therapy with a Registered Behavioral Technician
  • One-on-one and group speech therapy with a licensed speech and language pathologist
  • Early intensive behavior intervention for children from 18 months to 7 years

Depending on their treatment plan, children will attend between 20 to 40 hours per week. The team at the Center for Autism includes a board-certified behavior analyst, a licensed psychologist, a pediatrician, a speech and language pathologist, and a physical medicine and rehabilitation team.

Question: Where can I get more information about autism diagnosis and treatment?

Answer: If you have more questions, or would like to schedule a diagnostic screening, please call the Mary Free Bed at Covenant Center for Autism at 989-671-5738.

Posted Date: 4/30/2020

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