Autism and Other Developmental Disorders

What Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors. The effects of ASD and the severity of symptoms are different in each person. ASD is usually first diagnosed in childhood with many of the most-obvious signs presenting around 2-3 years old, but some children with autism develop normally until toddlerhood when they stop acquiring or lose previously gained skills. According to the CDC, one in 59 children is estimated to have autism. Autism spectrum disorder is also three to four times more common in boys than in girls, and many girls with ASD exhibit less obvious signs compared to boys. Autism is a lifelong condition. However, many children diagnosed with ASD go on to live independent, productive, and fulfilling lives. The information here focuses primarily on children and adolescents.
Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism differs from person to person in severity and combinations of symptoms. There is a great range of abilities and characteristics of children with autism spectrum disorder — no two children appear or behave the same way. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and often change over time.

Characteristics of autism spectrum disorder fall into two categories.

Types of Anxiety Disorder

A common mental health condition where people experience regular, excessive anxiety. Unlike other anxiety disorders where fears are easily identified, people living with GAD have multiple fears or may be unable to identify specific causes of their anxiety.

A common condition that’s characterized by excessive fear of certain social situations and specific concerns of being negatively judged by others. Often, social anxiety leads to avoidance of these situations which negatively impacts a person’s ability to function and their quality of life.


Develops following a traumatic experience with symptoms including upsetting memories, avoidance of trauma reminders, and impairment of normal routines and functioning. Acute stress disorder is diagnosed when symptoms occur directly after the trauma but resolve within one month. Acute stress disorder is a diagnosis used to help clinicians flag people at risk of developing PTSD following a traumatic experience like an accident, injury, or assault. Early treatment may slow or stop this progression to PTSD.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
A mental health condition defined by intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors ( (aka obsessions and compulsions). Those living with OCD experience intense anxiety about the nature of their obsessions and engage in compulsive behaviors to alleviate their distress. Reduction in the frequency and severity of symptoms is possible with therapy and/or medication.

A condition characterized by the intense fear of having another panic attack. Panic attacks feature extreme symptoms of anxiety that come on suddenly and generally last several minutes. Panic disorder leads to avoidant behavior which disrupts a person’s normal routine and daily life.

People feel an excessive and overwhelming amount of anxiety when separated, or when anticipating being separated, from a parent, spouse, child, etc. The level of anxiety experienced is not developmentally appropriate, is persistent, and can cause significant distress sometimes impairing social, school or work functioning. It is quite common and onset often occurs in children and adolescents. Treated with talk therapy and/or medication.

People experience intense anxiety in response to specific cues (people, places, things, or situations) that is excessive relative to the actual risk they face. Specific phobias are diagnosed when this fear or the resulting avoidance causes a significant distress or impairment in a person’s life. Phobias are treatable with exposure therapy, talk therapy, and/or medication.

The key differences between anxiety attacks and panic attacks involve intensity, duration, and onset. Panic attacks bring on a sudden rush of emotional and physical changes so intense that many people believe something serious is happening physically. A panic attack usually has a distinct beginning and end and symptoms rarely last more than 30 minutes. Anxiety attacks may be more subtle and present with a slow build. Periods of high anxiety could last for hours or days with the beginning and end of the anxiety attack very difficult to define.

Treatment of Autism

While children are not typically cured nor do they outgrow autism, studies have shown that symptoms can improve with early diagnosis and treatment. There is no single treatment for autism. Treatments can include intensive skill-building and teaching educational sessions, known as applied behavior analysis (ABA), and many more interactive, child-centered versions of behavior treatments. Treatment may also involve special training and support for parents, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and/or social skills training. Also, some children and adults with ASD have other kinds of psychological difficulties at some point in their lives, such as anxiety, ADHD, disruptive behaviors or depression. These difficulties can be treated with therapy or with medication. There are currently no medications that directly treat the core features of ASD.
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Other mental health disorders

Anxiety & Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety describes the reactions within our minds and bodies to situations that are stressful, dangerous, or create a sense of uncertainty. Nearly everyone experiences occasional feelings of anxiety – nervousness, worry, or fear. These feelings are typically triggered
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Depression: Types, Symptoms, & Treatments

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Bipolar Disorder: Types, Causes, & Treatments

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ADHD: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatments

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Schizophrenia: Symptoms & Treatments

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder marked by abnormalities in various areas of functioning. It is known as a psychotic disorder, which typically involves delusions, hallucinations and disorganized thinking. Schizophrenia can also impair motor...
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Psychological Traumatic-Stress Disorders

Psychological or emotional trauma can occur when one experiences an event (or several events) in which death, serious injury, or sexual assault, are threatened— or actually occur. A person can also be traumatized by hearing of these events happening to a loved one...
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We seek to ensure that all people with mental illness including people with past experiences of mental illness are supported by the association.