Autism Care

Frequently Asked Questions

What is autism?

The National Institutes of Health describes autism as a developmental disorder. It is one of a group of conditions known as autism spectrum disorders. Children's with autism may have mild or several expressions of the condition, such as difficulties communicating with others, repetitive actions, obsessive interests. Children with autism may be very passive or hyperactive; they may display aggression toward themselves or others.

What causes autism?

Scientists believe a combination of genetics and environment may lead to autism.

My child is 2 years old and I am worried about autism. What should I do?

Children younger than 3 years old are evaluated and treated at the Children's Developmental Services Agency. This regional office can evaluate your child and recommend treatments, assistive devices and other services such as speech therapy. Please visit the Children's Developmental Services Agency webpage for more information.

What is the best treatment?

Once we have evaluated your child, we will determine the most appropriate treatment plan. Your plan may include speech therapy, since speaking is often problematic with autism. Our office provides an appropriate setting, as many children and teenagers with autism or autism spectrum disorders may be very sensitive to light, noise, smells and tactile experiences.

Children with autism often need predictable routines and a structured setting. They may also have special interest areas, known as peak skills. These peak skill areas include math, drawing, music and memorization.

Will my child improve?

With the right combination of therapy, structure and support, most children can learn and succeed in school, home and social situations. You may find you need to change or adjust the treatment as your child matures. In many children, autism symptoms improve on their own as the child gets older. You may find you need to provide the right environment, such as quiet rooms, neutral colors and other sensory considerations, to aid your child's success. In addition, as your child discovers more interests, the symptoms may decrease as well.

I just learned my child has Asperger Syndrome. What does that mean?

The National Institutes of Health describes Asperger syndrome as an autism spectrum disorder.

What are autism spectrum disorders?

These are a distinct group of complex neurodevelopment disorders, or conditions affecting the development of the nervous system. They are characterized by difficulties in social situations, communication delays or problems, and restrictive, repetitive or other patterns of

As of May, 2013, autism and the former diagnosis of Asperger syndrome are collectively known as autism spectrum disorder. This diagnosis refers to people who, from childhood, show certain types of behavior that include problems with communication and social interaction, and may have concerning nonverbal behaviors as well as difficulty maintaining relationships. They may also have repetitive behaviors, strict routines and difficulty changing; and interests that are unusually restricted or highly focused. Extreme sensitivity to surroundings, or a lack of acknowledgment of them, may also be present.

These disorders are present from infancy or early childhood. Ideally, children with these disorders should have a screening or diagnosis by age 2, so treatment can begin early.

What else can you tell me about autism and autism spectrum disorder?

Autism features two main expressions.

  • Social and communication deficits. Children with autism spectrum disorder may not engage in back and forth conversations or eye contact. Body language and facial expressions may also be missing. They may have problems maintaining relationships. Children with autism may withdraw completely.
  • Fixed interests and repetitive behaviors. There may be a repetitive use of objects or phrases, patterns of movement, and strong attachments to routines, objects or interests. You may also notice a heightened or unusual interest in surroundings and changes to them.

What treatments are used?

  • social skills training
  • cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of talking therapy
  • medication
  • occupational or physical therapy
  • specialized speech/language therapy
  • parent training and support

Where can I find more information?

Please visit our Additional Information page.