While there is not a consensus on why ASD is continuing to rise as a diagnosis, there are good theories that range from greater awareness, to better diagnosis, to genetic mutations… even environmental factors have been considered. Regardless of the reason or reasons for the rise in diagnosis of children with autism, experts stress that it is important for parents to have early screenings for ASD and, if their child shows any symptoms, to take swift action to ensure the best opportunity for support and development.
Parents and caregivers should be aware of some of the earliest signs of autism. Behaviors of concern include:
Once concern is raised, the diagnosis is dependent on further assessment by an individual or team specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There is no single test that is diagnostic of autism. In order to have a diagnosis of Autism, an individual must satisfy the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5.
There is no cure for ASD and there’s no consensus on what causes it. However, everyone agrees that the earlier intervention begins for children with ASD, the more dramatic of a difference it can make in their lives. Treatment will draw upon a myriad of supportive tools to empower not only the child suffering with ASD but their family members who are there for them and are critical in reinforcing lessons learned.
A medical evaluation is recommended to determine if there is a specific, diagnosable medical condition that is associated with autistic behaviors or whether there are medical conditions commonly associated with autism (e.g. seizure disorder) that require further evaluation and treatment.
As part of a comprehensive assessment, audiological evaluation is imperative.
Caring for a child with autism can be challenging for parents and families, but with the right strategies and support for their child, treatment can reduce the effects of ASD on everyone, and help the child thrive. With an earlier diagnosis and therefore earlier introduction to treatment, children with ASD can achieve statistically significant gains and optimal therapeutic results.