Pediatric Specialists of Plano

What parents should know about autism

People use the term autism to refer to the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. Health professionals use this broader term because the symptoms and severity vary widely from person to person.

ASD includes children who have Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder and childhood disintegrative disorder. The syndrome affects children’s ability to communicate and interact with others. According to the CDC, about 1 in 44 children will be diagnosed with ASD by the time they are eight years old. Additionally, boys receive this diagnosis four times more often than girls do.

Signs and symptoms that may point to autism

The symptoms of autism spectrum disorder vary quite a bit. Each child has unique symptoms and experiences them differently.

  • Failure to make and/or keep eye contact
  • Not responding to their name or lack of facial expressions by nine months
  • Lack of gestures like waving or lack of interest in games like pat-a-cake by 12 months
  • Not pointing at pictures or objects by 18 months
  • Not joining other children or even noticing them by 36 months
  • Lack of pretend play by 48 months
  • Repetitive behaviors like lining up toys or playing with toys in the same way repeatedly
  • Getting upset with small changes
  • Flapping hands, spinning or rocking the body
  • Delays in language, movement or learning
  • Stress, anxiety, or more or less fear than other children

Early identification of ASD benefits children

Our Plano pediatricians recommend ASD screening for all children at their 18-month to 24-month well-child checkups. Early diagnosis allows for early intervention, which is more likely to help children experience major, long-term, positive changes. Early intervention begins around age two or three, a time in life when a child’s brain is still growing and forming. Early intervention programs work to develop the following skills.

  • Physical
  • Communication
  • Social
  • Thinking
  • Emotional

Our Plano pediatricians screen and diagnose children with ASD and can offer referrals to early intervention programs. Parents should not hesitate to discuss their concerns with our caring physicians. Contact us to schedule an appointment.