Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder is a brain disorder that impairs a person's behavior and ability to communicate and interact with others. The condition can be mild to severe in how it presents in patients.  The mystery is unfolding as to what causes it. At The Whole Child Pediatrics, we work with children with autism often.

Diagnosis in children requires 2 key components that present themselves in early childhood: 

Social Interaction & Social Communication Problems

Children with this disorder have:

  • Trouble with speech, speech delay, or an inability to speak at all

  • Trouble relating to others

  • Trouble reading facial expressions

  • Trouble making eye contact

  • Aversion to touch

  • Trouble playing or interacting with others

  • Preference for playing alone

Limited Interest

Children with this disorder:

  • Tend to show intense interest in certain things, but show little interest in anything else.

  • Young children might over-focus on things that spin or shine and ignore everything else

  • Older children might obsess on certain topics such as weather, numbers, sports, etc.

  • Children also may have to have certain rituals that they faithfully follow (such as eating foods in a certain order, taking the same path from one place to another, lining toys up in a certain order, etc.)


(This list of symptoms is from an UpToDate article published in 2016)


A child with Autism Spectrum Disorder might also:

  • Not point at objects to show interest

  • Not look at objects when another person points at them

  • Have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all

  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone

  • Have trouble understanding other people's feelings or talking about their own feelings

  • Prefer not to be held or cuddled or might cuddle only when they want to

  • Appear to be unaware when other people talk to them but respond to other sounds

  • Be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play or relate to them

  • Repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language (echolalia)

  • Have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions

  • Not play "pretend" games (such as feeding a doll)

  • Repeat actions over and over again

  • Have trouble adapting to changes in routine

  • Have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel or sound

  • Lose skills they once had (for instance, stop saying words they used to say)