Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children

The Autism Program at Children’s Specialized Hospital is dedicated to improving the lives of children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families by providing comprehensive evaluations, treatment, community education and research. As the largest regional provider of services for children with ASD, we are focused on early identification and treatment so kids can reach their full potential. And, since our highly qualified staff is committed to family-centered care, professionals and families work together as partners in making sure that children get the services they need.

Additionally, Children’s Specialized Hospital is at the forefront of research for treatment and diagnosis of autism. The hospital is conducting various clinical studies related to improving diagnosis and treatment for children, adolescents and families affected by ASD.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that is characterized by a combination of the following:

  • impaired socialization
  • impaired communication
  • restricted/repetitive behaviors or interests

Autism is called a spectrum disorder because it is defined by a certain set of behaviors and affects individuals differently and by varying degrees. Even though people may be diagnosed with an ASD, there is a wide variety of skills, with each child having his/her own strengths and difficulties.

Two individuals with the same diagnosis can act completely differently from one another; no two people with ASD will have the same symptoms. Many of the behaviors that are exhibited also interfere with learning and result in a need for specialized, consistent attention and structure.

Behavioral characteristics of ASD may include:

  • Delay or lack of verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  • Impairment of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye to eye gaze, facial expression, body posture and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • Preference to be alone, difficulty interacting/socializing with others
  • Lack of social and/or emotional reciprocity
  • Impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain conversation
  • Lack of "play" or make believe play
  • Obsessive attachment to objects, persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
  • Spinning, rocking, hand flapping or twisting and/or other self stimulating behavior

It is estimated that that approximately one in 100 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder. ASD occurs in every racial, ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic group. It is four times more likely to occur in boys.

What Causes Autism?

Currently, there is not a known single cause for autism. Researchers are investigating genetics, environmental factors and the interaction of genetics and environment.

little boy covering ears

Additional Resources:

Patient Stories

  • For families who are coming to CSH for the first time, I want you to know you’re in the best place. The staff is phenomenal and they really care, not only about the kids but about the families, too.

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  • Everyone is always so nice, understanding and professional. Our therapists have been great. Anybody whose child has been diagnosed with autism and doesn’t know where to go – CSH is the place to be!

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  • Be part of the care team. As you are with your child day in and day out, always ask yourself, How can I make this a teachable moment?

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Patient Stories

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