Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means there are many varying degrees that can involve different symptoms and have different implications for care and management. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) causes problems with behavior and socialization that can make it difficult for a child to participate in the routine activities at school and social activities. Because social interaction can be especially difficult for children with ASD, the disorder can also take an emotional toll, causing serious issues like depression and feelings of failure. ASD is a lifelong condition, but with early diagnosis and proper care, many people with mild to moderate forms of ASD can lead happy and productive lives.
Autism symptoms typically manifest in early childhood. Autism screening uses special tools and evaluations to assess the child's developmental skill set as well as identify symptoms as early as possible so care can be initiated. Screening for autism typically begins when the child is very young, with testing repeated at specific time intervals as the child develops. In addition to in-office screening, which may include questionnaires and parent interviews in addition to physical assessment of the child, neurological tests, hearing and vision tests, and other types of testing may also be ordered to confirm a diagnosis and rule out other possible causes of abnormal behaviors or developmental delays.
Asperger's syndrome is a very mild form of autism that can cause problems with behavior and socialization. With early intervention and proper care, most children with Asperger's syndrome can go on to lead healthy, normal lives.
Autism spectrum disorder cannot be cured, but it can be managed with a combination of therapy and, when needed, medication to address behavior and social issues, as well as learning delays when present. Many children benefit from special accommodations in school settings to help them focus and improve learning and cognition. Counseling can also help by resolving feelings of failure and other emotional issues.
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