Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, language and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.
We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
Indicators of autism can appear as early as 10-12 months with reliable diagnosis typically possible by age two. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.
In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four distinct autism diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.
Learn more about the signs of autism and autism "red flags".
Three Levels of Severity
There are three levels of severity, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) – this is the criteria with which a doctor would make a diagnosis.
Getting a diagnosis
Understanding the nuances between behaviors is difficult, even when you know your child well. Often times, parents and loved ones will call Blue Stars Therapy for guidance. We can help you understand the process and what to expect, although we can not and do not provide a diagnosis. Below are locations where you can receive a diagnosis in the St. Louis Metro Area, though if you aren't ready for that step, we are happy to provide our professional opinion – feel free to contact us.
For a diagnosis, call one of the certified autism centers in Missouri:
Mercy Kids Autism Center: 314.872.3345
Washington University Autism Center: 314.286.1700
Knights of Columbus Developmental Center: 314.577.5609
Thompson Center for Neurological Disorders: 573.884.6052