Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. It is usually diagnosed in early childhood, with many children showing symptoms between 12 and 18 months of age or earlier. While there is no cure for autism, early detection and treatment can make a big difference in the lives of those affected. Parents often notice the first signs of autism in their children around 12 to 18 months.
These signs may include not making eye contact or smiling when mom or dad walks in the room. In some cases, children may appear to develop normally during the first year, but then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months of age when they develop symptoms of autism. Video records and studies suggest that some children regress to autism, while others show signs of autism in childhood or a plateau in their development. It is unclear if there is anything different about autism in families who have more than one child with the condition, compared to autism that seems to have no family connection.
If autism is detected in childhood, treatment can take full advantage of the remarkable plasticity of the young brain. While many doctors don't diagnose a child with autism before age 30 months, they will be able to use screening techniques to determine when there is a group of symptoms associated with autism. Autism Speaks Ad Council's multi-year public service advertising campaign emphasizes the importance of recognizing early signs of autism and seeking early intervention services. While there is no cure for ASD, intensive and early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.