At the Texas Young Autism Project, we work with individuals who have autism and other developmental and behavioral challenges, to give them a head start toward living their best lives. So what is autism, exactly, and how can you tell if you or your child has it?
Autism, now called autism spectrum disorder or ASD, is a complex developmental disorder that affects how people interact with the world around them. It isn’t a mental illness or a disease. Around 1 in 54 children in the U.S. live with autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a lifelong condition, but there are interventions and supports that can help you or your child to flourish.
Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by differences and difficulties in communication, speech, learning, behaviors, and social relationships. Autism is a spectrum, which means every single person with autism is unique.
Most signs of autism appear in children before the age of 3. Again, it’s important to remember that autism is a spectrum, so not all children with autism will present in the same way. However, some early signs of autism in young children are:
If you suspect your child has autism (or any other developmental disorder), you’re legally entitled to an evaluation. A psychologist can help you get an autism diagnosis for your child by conducting tests and interviews with both you and your child.
We still don’t know for sure what exactly causes autism. The only definite factor that scientists have identified is a genetic component. Children are more likely to have autism if they have a sibling with autism. There are also two medications (valproic acid and thalidomide) that, when taken during pregnancy, have been linked to autism in the child. Children who are born to older parents have a higher likelihood of being autistic, but we still don’t know exactly why this is.
What research has proven is that autism is not caused by vaccines or “helicopter” parenting styles.
Most people have heard about autism, but it’s still one of the most misunderstood conditions out there. To clear up some of this confusion, we want to bust some common myths about autism. The more you understand about what autism is, the more you’ll be able to support your child.
If you would have a question or would like additional information, please fill in the form below and someone from our office will be in contact with you.