Autism: Get Connected
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an impairment of the brain that may cause developmental delays in speech, communication, socialization, interests, activities, or repetitive behaviors and unusual behaviors. The delays may be mild and hardly noticeable or severe enough to affect functioning. No one factor has been identified at this time for the cause of Autism but research continues. In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association changed the definition of autism to include all previously diagnosed Autism Disorders into one classification: Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism NJ reports the following facts on the rising rates of Autism along with the higher rates in boys than girls:
- Nationally: the rate of occurrence is 1 in 68 with 1 in 54 boys being diagnosed
- New Jersey: the rate of occurrence is 1 in 45 with 1 in 42 boys being diagnosed
Early signs of Autism (Autism NJ):
- No babbling by 12 months
- No pointing or gesturing by 12 months
- No single words by 16 months
- No 2-word phrases by 24 months
- Loss of previously acquired skills, especially language
- Not responding to name
- Lack of play appropriate to age
- Lack of developing peer relationships
- Not imitating others
- Rigid routines
- Difficult transitions
- Repetitive behaviors
- Unusual responses to sensory stimuli like noise, lights, crowds
Children should be screened by their primary care providers for developmental delays at ages 9, 18 and 30 months and have an Autism Screening at ages 18 and 24 months. Parents can use tools such as the CDC's Learn the signs, Act early , the APA: Ages and Stages , or the check list in the Early Intervention brochure to check their child's development. A comprehensive evaluation can be completed at one of the Child Evaluation Centers .
Once Autism is diagnosed treatment should start as soon as possible. For children diagnosed with Autism or experiencing a significant delay between the ages of birth to age 3 a parent should call the Early Intervention System for an evaluation and start of treatment. A diagnosis is not needed for Early Intervention services to begin. For children over age 3 the parents should contact their school district's child study team. Early screenings and treatment is the key to helping these children. There is no cure for Autism so treatment is important.
Special Child Health Services provides case managers to assist parents with locating resources and connections to programs. Special Child Health Services is available for any child from birth through twenty-one who has special health care needs and at no cost to families. Contact our office for more information.
Special Child Health Services
201 Wheatsworth Road
Hamburg NJ 07419