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Autism in Children: What you need to know

You may have heard about autism in the media, the medical community, or from other concerned parents. Autism awareness is at an all-time high, but what does a diagnosis of autism mean? What does autism look like in every day life?

You may have some concerns regarding your child’s behavior and are looking for answers. Below, I will go over what you need to know about autism, including things to look out for and what steps to take if you have concerns.

If you are wondering what therapies are typically recommended for children with autism, see Supports and Services for Children with Autism. Do you have questions about ADHD, see ADHD in Children: What you need to know. Are you concerned that your child is showing signs of anxiety, see Anxiety in Children: What you need to know.

What is autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by difficulty with communication and social interaction and the presence of repetitive or restrictive behaviors.

Symptoms of autism are typically present around age 2-3, though a diagnosis can occur as early as 18 months.

It is important to know that autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that each individual with the diagnosis can present differently with their own strengths and challenges.

A licensed clinician, such as a psychologist, is needed to evaluate for autism and make a diagnosis. Autism can also be associated with additional medical and mental health concerns such as: gastrointestinal issues, sleep concerns, challenging behaviors, ADHD, and anxiety. See below for other signs of autism to look out for.

Autism: Things to look out for

Remember that autism is a spectrum disorder, thus each individual with autism will present with their own strengths and challenges, and autism presentation can vary over time depending on age and other factors. Below are some general behavior trends in children that raise concern for autism:

Steps to take if you are concerned that your child may have autism:

1. Don’t wait! Talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns and find a provider in the area to conduct a formal evaluation (see Utah Parent Center and/or Autism Speaks Resource Guide for help finding a provider near you).

2. Start intervention as soon as possible! If your child is under 3 years old, contact Utah’s early intervention program: Baby Watch. If your child is over 3 years old, contact your local school district to request an evaluation for services. If behavior concerns are present, contact Seedling Behavioral Psychology for parent training on managing challenging behaviors.

3. Learn more about Autism! Visit Autism Speaks and download their 100 Day Kit.

A free therapy consultation in Draper

Hopefully this helps answer some of your questions about autism in children. If you are looking for more information on parent training or challenging behavior support for your children, feel free to call me at (801)-613-9184 for a free 15-minute consultation, or click HERE to read more about how I can help.

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