About Autism

University Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment

Autism, a neurological condition, involves impairment in communication skills, difficulty relating to others, and repetitive behaviors. These characteristics can look very different in different children. Some characteristics may be easy to see while others are more subtle. Following are only a few examples of how autism may appear.

Signs of Autism

  • Difficulties in Regulation: Children with autism may not look at your face when you are interacting with them. They may smile infrequently and may have sensory sensitivities, making it difficult to regulate touch, sounds, sights, smells, and tastes.
  • Difficulties in Engagement: Children with autism may be uncomfortable making eye contact. Some may not babble, point, enjoy shared interests, or respond to his or her name.
  • Difficulties with Social Interaction: Children with autism often do not imitate, may lack a cohesive, steady flow of communication or have delayed communication, and sometimes do not engage in pretend play.
  • Difficulties with Repetitive Behavior: Children with autism may demonstrate an increase preoccupation with certain toys or activities, demonstrate an unusual adherence to routines or be persistent with repetitive motor movements.

Early Diagnosis is Critically Important

The diagnosis of autism should be made as early as possible so therapies can begin. The UCAN Assessment Team sees children between the ages of 18-months and 21-years, and embraces early identification and diagnosis that leads to quality treatment and care. The cornerstone of treatment for children with autism is language/communication and behavioral therapies. Other therapies such as occupational therapy, behavior management, and social skills training are also often helpful. The team makes recommendations for appropriate therapies depending on the individual need of the child and family. This combined effort of the different disciplines assists in the facilitation and follow through with recommendations made by the team to families for support services. Further, the multidisciplinary nature of the team adheres to the recommendations made by the National Institute of Health and the U.S. Department of Special Education that identification of autistic spectrum disorders should include a formal multidisciplinary evaluation of social behavior, language and nonverbal communication, adaptive behavior, motor skills, atypical behaviors and cognitive status by a team of professionals experienced with autistic spectrum disorder.