What is Autism?

“Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children in the Unite States today” (Speaks, 2022a).

Autism is truly a spectrum. Child’s abilities and challenges vary based on a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are several subtypes of Autism, and it can range from a child requiring immense support in daily living, to a child able to live independently. Autism is typically accompanied by medical issues including sensory sensitivities, gastrointestinal issues, seizures, sleep disorders and occasionally depression and/or anxiety. 

Signs of Autism

Typically, Autism is screened for at ages 2-3 years old. However, it is extremely crucial to be educated in signs/symptoms so you can observe your child throughout the early years.

6 months

  • Limited eye contact
  • Decreased smiles/limited engagement with familiar faces

9 months

  • Decreased back/forth sounds (ooh, ahh)

12 months

  • Little to no babbling
  • Decreased or no responding to their name
  • Little to no waving, pointing, showing of interest/back-forth

16 months

  • Very few to no words

24 months

  • Very few to no meaningful 2-word phrases (does not include imitating or repeating)

At any age

  • Decreased eye contact
  • Limited understanding of other’s feelings
  • Preferring solitude
  • Restricted interests
  • Resistance to minor changes
  • Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning)
  • Unusual and/or intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights, colors

“If you have concerns, get your child screened and contact your healthcare provider. The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers ™) can help you determine if a professional should evaluate your child. This simple online autism screen, available on our website, takes only a few minutes. If the answers suggest your child has a high probability for autism, please consult with your child’s doctor. Likewise, if you have any other concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait. Speak to your doctor now about screening your child for autism” (Speaks, 2022b)

Autism & Different Approaches

Autism is a lifelong disorder; however, with different treatment approaches, children can feel reduced symptoms and improve quality of life. All treatment approaches are individualized to the child, as each child with Autism has a different set of strengths and challenges.

  • Behavioral Approaches
    • These focus on changing behaviors, which lends itself to finding out what happens before and after the behavior.
    • Behavioral approaches are rooted in evidence and have the most effective evidence for treatment of ASD. An excellent behavioral environment is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
      • ABA utilizes Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
        • DTT utilizes a step-by-step teaching approach. With this model, activities are broken down into a simpler form to teach appropriate behaviors and responses. Typically, undesired behaviors are ignored using this model.
        • PRT is more of a natural approach to behavior. This approach focuses on teaching “pivotal” skills that will allow the child to develop other skills such as initiating communication.

  • Developmental Approaches
    • These focus on developing the skills children with ASD typically have difficulty developing on their own. These developments include physical, sensory and language skills.
    • Occupational therapy teaches the child skills for daily living, to encourage living as independently as possible. These skills include eating, bathing, and relating to others.
      • Occupational therapy can also include sensory integration therapy, which aids in improving responses to sensory input that could be restricting and/or overwhelming.
          • Speech and Language Therapy aids in improving a person’s understanding and use of speech and language. Some people with ASD may communicate verbally or nonverbally, using gestures or communication devices. (CDC, 2022)

Great news – Aurora Behavior Clinic offers all 3 of these approaches to treatment of ASD! Peruse our website to find out more information!

CDC. (2022, March 9). Treatment and intervention services for autism spectrum disorder. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 6, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html#:~:text=The%20most%20common%20developmental%20therapy,people%20with%20ASD%20communicate%20verbally.

Speaks, A. (2022a). What is autism? Autism Speaks. Retrieved January 6, 2023, from


Speaks, A. (2022b). Learn the Signs of Autism Autism Speaks. Retrieved January 6, 2023, from