Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder involving difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communications, social interactions, and repetitive behaviors. According to America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 44 children in the U.S. have been identified with ASD. The prevalence of autism in South Korea is also estimated to be around 2.6% of school-age children.
The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity of the disorder. Often children show symptoms of ASD within 3 years of age and consistent research has found that early intervention can improve development in children with ASD. Especially, highly structured and intensive behavioral interventions can make a difference in the child’s cognitive, behavioral, language, and social delays.
Causes and Risk Factors?
There is no single known cause of ASD; however, studies suggest that there are likely to be many genetic and/or environmental related factors. Providing early intervention with highly structured behavioral therapy is crucial as it can improve adaptive skills and decrease inappropriate behaviors in children with autism. Without proper early intervention, the symptoms may persist and the child may grow to have more difficulties in participating as a member of society.
Symptoms of ASD
Deficits in social communication and interaction
– Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity which leads to reduced sharing of interests and emotions with others
– Deficits in non-verbal communication which involve a lack of eye contact or facial expressions and other non-verbal communication
– Difficulties in making and maintaining relationships such as absence of interest in peers
Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors
– Stereotyped or repetitive movements or speech (e.g., lining up toys, repeating certain words/phrases)
– Insistence on sameness and extreme stress with small changes
– Restricted interests that are abnormal in intensity
– Hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input (e.g., adverse response to specific sounds or textures)