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Autism Spectrum Disorder


Autism is a brain development disorder that leads to problems with language, behavior, and social interaction. A child with autism often has mental retardation. This means your child will develop or learn more slowly than others his age do. It may be hard to know how much your child's development and learning are delayed. He may not show clear signs of autism until he is at least 3 years old. He may develop normally for 1 to 2 years and then start losing skills. It may also be hard for your child to get along with others. These problems will continue throughout your child's lifetime.



  • Antipsychotic medicines: These medicines are given to decrease anger and anxiety. They may also help keep your child from hurting himself.
  • Seizure medicines: These medicines help stop or decrease seizures.
  • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors: These medicines help decrease your child's anxiety and improve his mood. They may also help decrease behaviors that are repeated over and over.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Make your home safe:

Keep your child away from objects that he may try to swallow. You may want to install motion alarms in your house. These alarms will wake you if your child gets out of bed at night. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about other ways to help keep your child safe.

Follow your child's treatment plan:

Follow the guidelines that healthcare providers give you as to how you can help your child gain new skills. Your child may work with different therapists for many hours each day. Therapy may be 30 to 40 hours each week. Speak to all of your child's home caregivers about your child's treatment plan. Your child may need any of the following therapies:

  • Behavioral therapy: This type of therapy is done to help your child learn new skills. Your child may learn new ways to communicate. Behavioral therapy also teaches your child which behaviors are appropriate and which are not. Behavioral therapy is normally done at home, in daycare, or at school. Parents are encouraged to be involved in therapy to support and develop positive relationships.
  • Occupational therapy: A therapist will work with your child to help him learn common daily activities. A therapist may help teach your child to dress himself, feed himself, and how to keep himself clean. The therapist may also help your child learn to better interact with others.
  • Speech therapy: A therapist helps teach your child how to communicate. Your child may be taught other forms of communication besides spoken word, such as gestures.
  • Sensory integration: This is therapy to help your child if he has trouble with his senses. This includes being bothered by sounds or smells, or being touched. A therapist works with your child to improve his ability to cope with certain sounds and smells. He will also help your child learn to accept touch from others.

Give your child healthy foods:

It is important that your child gets the right vitamins in his diet and drinks enough liquids every day. If your child will eat only specific foods, work with healthcare providers to plan his meals. Healthcare providers may suggest blending foods your child will eat with others he refuses. This may help your child get the nutrients he needs. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information about the following:

  • Meals and snacks: Your child's healthcare provider may suggest your child not eat foods with gluten and casein. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Casein is found in milk and other dairy products. Always talk with your child's healthcare providers before you make changes to what your child eats.
  • Vitamins and supplements: Your child's healthcare provider may suggest vitamins and supplements, such as vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids. These may help decrease his symptoms.

Have a bedtime routine:

Have your child go to bed at the same time each night. Give your child quiet activities to do before bed. Try to wake your child at about the same time each morning. This may help decrease his sleep problems.

For support or more information:

  • Autism Society of America
    4340 East-West Highway
    Bethesda , MD 20814-3067
    Phone: 1- 800 - 328-8476
    Web Address:

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child is more sad or nervous than usual.
  • Your child has new or worse problems eating or sleeping.
  • Your child has a stomachache, diarrhea, or feels like he is going to throw up.
  • Your child is not drinking liquids or is not urinating as much as he usually does.
  • Your child has less energy, or is sleepier than usual.
  • Your child is eating poorly and is losing weight.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child seriously injures himself.
  • Your child has a seizure, or you cannot wake him up.
  • Your child swallows something that is not food.

Learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.