Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulty with social communication and interaction, and the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviors, interests or activities. ASD is a spectrum disorder, meaning that the severity of symptoms and the level of impairment can vary greatly from person to person (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013).
The prevalence of ASD is estimated to be 1 in 59 children in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020). In most cases, the cause of ASD is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role (CDC, 2020). Symptoms of ASD can include difficulty understanding social cues, difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication, difficulty making and maintaining eye contact, difficulty with social interactions, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests (APA, 2013).
Early diagnosis and intervention can help improve the outcome for people with ASD. Early diagnosis and intervention programs can help to improve communication, social, and behavioral skills and can help people with ASD better navigate the world around them (CDC, 2020). Early intervention programs may include therapies such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social skills training, and play therapy (CDC, 2020).
While there is no cure for ASD, it is important to remember that people with ASD can lead meaningful lives and can make significant contributions to society. With proper support and intervention, people with ASD can reach their full potential and live fulfilling lives (CDC, 2020).
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html