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Autism Spectrum Disorder
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of developmental conditions that can make social interaction and communication challenging. Spectrum means signs and symptoms can vary from one child to another and range from mild to severe. ASD includes autism disorder, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably with ASD.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- Your child has a seizure for the first time.
Call your child's pediatrician if:
- Your child is taking seizure medicine but still has a seizure.
- Your child swallows something that is not food.
- Your child becomes depressed, or has new problems eating or sleeping.
- Your child is eating poorly and is losing weight.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to help decrease anxiety, repeated behaviors, or anger. Your child may also need medicine to control or prevent seizures.
- 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.
How ASD is managed:
Your child's healthcare provider may talk to you about levels of support for your child. This is based on challenges your child has with social skills, communication, and repeated behaviors. The level of support ranges from 1 to 3. Level 3 is the most support needed.
- Early intervention may help your child learn and keep new skills. Early intervention begins before your child is 3 years old. Intervention may need to change many times during your child's life to help fit his or her needs. Providers will work with you and everyone who takes care of your child. This will help make sure everyone knows how to support your child.
- Therapy may be recommended. The goal of therapy is to help your child feel confident and supported. Support may include social skill, behavior, speech, or physical therapy. Therapy may also help your child tolerate certain sounds and smells more easily.
Help support your child:
- Keep a schedule. Your child may be comforted by routines. Introduce changes slowly. Make activity a part of your child's daily schedule. Regular exercise can help reduce your child's stress and anxiety.
- Be patient. Your child will have an easier time calming down and communicating if you stay calm. You may feel frustrated if your child becomes upset often. It may help to take a short break. Make sure your child is safe and with a responsible adult before you step away.
- Build on and celebrate your child's strengths. Help your child find activities he or she enjoys and does well. Your child may have amazing strengths, such as advanced abilities with music or math. Encourage your child to try new things, but do not force him or her. Encourage your child as he or she tries something new or gains new skills.
- Talk to officials at your child's school. Your child may need support at school. He or she may need help feeling more comfortable in class. An individualized education program (IEP) may be used through high school graduation. The IEP identifies your child's learning needs and helps teachers understand how to help him or her learn. The IEP may help your child build skills he or she will need after high school.
- Work with healthcare providers to create a meal plan for your child. If your child will eat only specific foods, work with healthcare providers to plan meals and snacks. Healthcare providers may suggest blending foods your child will eat with others he or she refuses. This may help your child get the nutrients he or she needs.
- Have a bedtime routine. Sleep problems are common in children with ASD. Have your child go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day. This may help decrease sleep problems. 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 up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.
For support and more information:
- Autism Speaks
1 East 33rd Street, 4th Floor
New York , NY 10016
1 East 33rd Street, 4th Floor
New York , NY 10016
Phone: 1- 888 - 288-4762
Web Address: https://www.autismspeaks.org/
- Autism Society of America
4340 East-West Highway
Bethesda , MD 20814-3067
Phone: 1- 800 - 328-8476
Web Address: http://www.autism-society.org
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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