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by Annita M. Taylor, MBA, MSN, APRN, ANP

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a wide range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. It is a common disorder in the USA with over 200,000 diagnoses per year or 1 in every 44 children. Signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3.

Individuals with ASD have a distinct set of strengths and challenges. Some people with ASD may be high functioning and live independently while others may face mild to severe challenges and require significant support in their daily living. Autism can be associated with a genetic disorder. Several different genes appear to be involved in ASD. Genetic mutations (changes) may put a child at risk of developing ASD.

3 types of Autism (ASD) are:

1) Autistic Disorder “classic autism”

Associated with- significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.

2) Asperger Syndrome

Associated with- milder symptoms of autistic disorder usually not associated with language or intellectual disability.

3) Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified “atypical”

Associated with- people who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome. Fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder. The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.

If your child exhibits signs of autism, speak with their pediatrician for assessment.

Stay safe, informed, and healthy!

NP Annita M. Taylor

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