Unusual Speech and Language:
People with autism may be non-verbal, or experience a
significant delay or regression in speech and language abilities, usually in
early childhood. Individuals who are
high-functioning and those with Asperger Syndrome may have excellent
vocabularies, but have difficulty understanding and using language in impromptu,
Restricted or Unusual Interests:
Children and adults with an autism spectrum disorder
are likely to be preoccupied with unusual interests or topics. They may focus on
specific objects, parts of objects, or unusual topics. They may focus on
ordinary topics, but with an extraordinary focus, to the exclusion of other
interests or activities. In some
cases, this intensity of interest leads to successful pursuits in adulthood.
Unusual reactions and
or adults with ASD may display sudden, unexpected reactions to sensory stimuli
such as touch, lights, sounds, smells, tastes, groups of people or events. They
may also respond to these sensory challenges by seeking the comfort of known
schedules, scripts and routines, often leading to an inflexible resistance to
individuals with autism may display self-stimulating
behaviors such as rocking, spinning, jumping, toe walking, hand flapping or head
banging. Others may appear to be physically awkward or uncoordinated.
Unusual Social Interaction:
A child or
adult with autism may appear unresponsive to those around him. Those who
display odd behaviors or an intense focus on
narrow interests may feel isolated and/or experience rejection by peers. Most
children and adults with autism spectrum disorders are interested in having
friends and being social. However, their difficulty in
reading social cues and understanding the perspectives of others often impairs
social communication and the ability to start or maintain a friendship.
Hope for the future:
diagnosis is sometimes difficult to accept and address, even for the most
compassionate and caring of families. The AAACC is
available for individuals and families who have recently received a diagnosis,
and those who have been addressing autism for decades.
There is hope. Increased funding is providing more
research into early identification, new therapeutic models, medical
interventions, and educational services. Though
some do not, some children with autism graduate from college, get married, and
are gainfully employed.
should I go if I suspect that a family member has an ASD?
no single medical test to diagnose autism. Diagnosis
is based on behavioral symptoms and requires the specialized training of a
psychiatrist, neuropsychologist or developmental pediatrician who has expertise
in autism spectrum disorders. Two
major centers for the assessment of possible autism spectrum disorders in the
Baltimore-Washington region are: