Learn about autism - signs and symptoms, diagnoses, early identification and treatment.
What is autism spectrum disorder?
- Autistic disorder,
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and
- Asperger syndrome.
These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.
Signs and symptoms
Not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over).
Not look at objects when another person points at them.
Have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all.
Avoid eye contact and want to be alone.
Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings.
Prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to.
Appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds.
Be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them.
Repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language.
Have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions.
Not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll).
Repeat actions over and over again.
Have trouble adapting when a routine changes.
Have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound.
Lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using).
24 or 30 months.
Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation
The second step of diagnosis is a comprehensive evaluation. This thorough review may include looking at the child’s behavior and development and interviewing the parents. It may also include a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and other medical testing.
In some cases, the primary care doctor might choose to refer the child and family to a specialist for further assessment and diagnosis. Specialists who can do this type of evaluation include:
- Developmental Pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs).
- Child Neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves).
- Child Psychologists or Psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind).
There is currently no cure for ASD. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development. Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills. Services can include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others. Therefore, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has ASD or other developmental problem.
HCP is previously known as the Health Care Program for Children With Special Needs. Now they're known simply as HCP.
HCP programs are located within local public health agencies throughout Colorado and have nurse-led teams with special knowledge of the complexities that families of children and youth with special health care needs experience.
- HCP brochure.|In Spanish.
- HCP Rack Cards.| In Spanish. |In Arabic. |In Somali.
- Find your local public health agency.
- Learn the signs, act early.