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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability. Here you will find out more about what it is and what to look for.

Boy wearing yellow shirt sitting on grass

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a “spectrum” developmental disability – which means that children with ASD have a range of strengths and needs. Autism can have an impact on a child’s ability to interact and engage with others. It can also affect a child's ability to speak, learn, and communicate with others.

Doctors don't know exactly what causes it, but potential signs of ASD can appear as early as 18 months of age. Right now, there's no cure for ASD, but the symptoms and its impact can be managed and supported through coordinated care and therapy. Common treatments include speech-language therapy, occupational and physical therapy, social skills support, and medical treatments.

Boys hand reaching for camera

Studies show that early diagnosis and intervention services – while a child's brain is still developing – can significantly improve her ability to learn and communicate by the start of kindergarten.

What are some potential symptoms of ASD?

  • Makes little or no eye contact.

  • Starts talking later than age two, or loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences.

  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm; may use a sing-song voice or robot-like speech.

  • Difficulty relating to other people, prefers to be alone, and doesn’t like to cuddle.

  • Doesn’t play or has unusual play patterns, like spinning objects over and over.

  • Has unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound.

Teacher with glasses showing kid colored faces on piece of paper

Click here for more facts about Autism Spectrum Disorder. For additional resources and information, visit The Help Group.

Parent Tip: As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. If you notice anything about your child’s behavior or development that doesn’t seem right, talk with your child’s pediatrician about your concerns.

First 5 California
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First 5 California
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