April is Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD Awareness Month!

autism logoWhat is Autism Spectrum Disorder? ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. A neurodevelopmental disorder is an impairment of the growth and development of the brain or central nervous system.  A narrower use of the term refers to a disorder of brain function that affects emotion, learning ability and memory which unfolds as the individual grows. People who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder may or may not also have an intellectual disability. Studies have shown that more boys are diagnosed with ASD than girls.

What are the core features of ASD?
ASD is diagnosed based on two main or “core” features. The first core feature is qualitative impairment in communication and/or social interactions. Qualitative impairment means that there is a significant impairment in communication skills and social interaction skills that cause noticeable difficulty for the individual throughout their lifespan. These impairments can be severe. The second core feature is restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped behaviors.  THIS VARIES FROM PERSON TO PERSON

What may you see?
People with ASD may either over-react or under-react to certain sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes. Some people may dislike or show discomfort from a light touch or the feeling of clothes on their skin. Other people may experience pain from certain sounds, like a vacuum cleaner, a ringing telephone, or a sudden storm. This may result in someone covering their ears and screaming.  Some people may have no reaction to intense cold, heat or pain.

Medical concerns associated with ASD may include:

  • Seizures
  • Allergies
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

Treatment should be multidisciplinary and may include a neurologist, a gastroenterologist, a behavioral health specialist, and an occupational therapist.

Explore Your Resources!  This is a great way for people with ASD and their families to find health care professionals and education about ASD to access supports.

  • Visit ASERT (Autism Services, Education Resources and Education) at www.paautism.org
  • Visit www.pchc.org to see the ASD Health Promotion Activity Plan (HPAP)

Source: www.paautism.org