Understanding Autism: Warning Signs and How to Cope
More individuals than ever are diagnosed with autism, and its growing prevalence has increased awareness while decreasing stigma. Yet it remains a complicated condition. The term autism has evolved over the years to include different symptoms—an dis likely still evolving, making it difficult for parents to determine if it even applies to their child.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated one in 59 children in the United States. Early treatment can make a big difference in the progress of improvement, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms.
At its core, autism causes challenges with communication and behavior. The severity of those challenges can fall on a wide range. For some, it can be a mild but manageable condition, while for others the condition may require full-time special care. To take these multiple levels into account, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V, the most recent version of the diagnostic manual used in the United States) introduced the term ‘autism spectrum disorder’ (ASD).
This includes two primary definitions: “persistent impairment in reciprocal social communication and social interaction” and “restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior,” both of which present in early childhood. Put simply, autism makes it difficult to express oneself or understand what others think and feel. Trouble communicating verbally or nonverbally is one of significant warning sign to watch for, along with limited eye contact, lack of smiling or not responding to one’s name.
While symptoms generally appear before a child turns three, early signs may be missed so it’s important to watch for these behaviors at any age:
- Prefers to be alone
- Nonverbal or delayed language development
- Repeats words or phrases over and over
- Resistant to even minor changes in routine or surroundings
- Highly-restricted interests
- Repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning
- Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
We’re Here to Help
If you or your child have received an autism diagnosis, resist the urge to turn inward and instead, reach out for help. The autism community is vast and supportive, and Creative Health Solutions co-founder served and Chief Therapist has served that community for over 30 years.
We are here to assist children and adults in addressing the physical, emotional, and social challenges they face every day. ASD is a symptomatic diagnosis that differs, often profoundly, from individual to individual. Creative has found that the most effective therapy begins by first discovering and treating the root causes, separately and then working together.
We then address the higher-level functional skills. Since our approach is integrated and collaborative, each client benefits from the very best ideas of the whole team. Creative therapists also connect with and build rapport with each client—a warm supportive personal approach that encourages and fosters maximum participation and follow through.