Autism Center of North Mississippi

About Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex, lifelong developmental condition that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, and self-regulation. The Autism experience is different for everyone. It is often referred to as a “spectrum condition” that affects people differently and to varying degrees.

Understanding Autism

Signs & Characteristics

Autism impacts an individual throughout their lifespan. However, research shows that early diagnosis can improve quality of life. The behaviors of Autism may be apparent in infancy, but they usually become more evident during early childhood. As a part of a regular health visit, your child’s doctor should perform developmental screenings focused on Autism. This screening is recommended at ages 18 and 24 months for all children.

What causes autism?

Researchers do not know the exact cause of Autism but are investigating several theories, including the links between heredity, genetics, and medical problems.

Why is early intervention important?

Many children on the autism spectrum need help in learning how to act in different social situations. Many also need help learning the life skills essential to increase independence at home, at school and in the community. By introducing these skills early and building block by block, children with autism can gain the tools that will allow them to increase self esteem and lead to more happiness in all areas of life.

Why are so many children being diagnosed with ASD?

The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder has increased by more than 150% since 2000. And while increased rates may be partially explained by improved screening, researchers are exploring various environmental and genetic risk factors. CDC statistics reveal that ASD exists across all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups. In addition, boys are more likely than girls to develop ASD.

What are the signs of autism?

  • No babbling or pointing by 12 months
  • No single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by 24 months
  • No response to name
  • Loss of language or social skills
  • Minimal eye contact
  • No smiling
  • Impaired ability to make friends
  • Absence or impairment of imaginative or social play
  • Stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language

Behaviors suggesting your child may struggle with autism most often occur between ages 2 and 6. None of those above behaviors represents an immediate indication of autism. But if you’ve observed any of them, you should consider a comprehensive evaluation from a clinical psychologist.

How is autism treated?

There is no cure currently available for autism. However, specific programs and therapy can help children develop skills and decrease behaviors that cause them problems.

Several therapies work well for children with ASD:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): Hundreds of studies have proven this therapy works well for all kids with autism, from mild to severe.
  • Occupational Therapy (OT): OT teaches children the skills they need to perform daily life activities. This includes motor skills, learning how to manage sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and more.
  • Speech or Physical Therapy: Some children may also need help with speech or physical movements.

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