Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome
In real life, parents with toddlers as young as 2- or 3-years old notice developmental delays, avoidance of cuddling, and odd behavior – characteristics that change and become more worrisome as the child matures. Not all children and teens grow up to be accomplished or brilliant, in fact some have below normal intelligence and severe difficulties achieving productive work or satisfying relationships. It can appear that they live in their own separate world. There are many theories about the cause of autism, the most current being a malfunction or structural defect of the central nervous system. Autism Spectrum Disorders may run in families or be genetic in origin. Research is ongoing.
These conditions are considered chronic neurodevelopmental disorders, with Asperger’s Syndrome since 2013 being classified as a high-functioning subset of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Children and teens “on the spectrum” range widely in intelligence and in their ability to function in a normal family, school or work setting. However, characteristics typical of all people on the spectrum include social awkwardness, communication difficulties, being overly interested in certain specific topics, and reliance upon rigid routines or peculiar rituals. The diagnosis can only be determined by a professional evaluation.
Children with autism need a comprehensive evaluation and a multimodal treatment plan that includes programs for language, behavior and education. There is no cure, although specialized interventions can reduce disruptive behaviors and improve the child’s quality of life.
Child and adolescent psychiatrists are trained to diagnose autism and to help families design and implement an individualized treatment plan. They are able to help families adjust to having a child undergoing significant issues impacting all areas of their lives. Dr. Rauch can help coordinate your child’s evaluation, testing, and treatment, which occasionally may include medications.