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It’s a developmental disorder that can be recognized in early childhood. Doctors say there is treatment for autism that can offer many children a normal life.
Dr. Denise Dutchak, a child psychiatrist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, says autism is a developmental spectrum disorder. It’s made up of a consolation of symptoms, including difficulty with communication, social interaction, and compulsive behaviors. “They can also have what we call stereotypical behaviors. One of them might be spinning in place or hand flapping.”
Symptoms can start in early childhood as young as two years old. “Parents and pediatricians will recognize it early on even before two years of age, depending on how they’re communicating and how they’re interacting,” said Dr. Dutchak.
While autism is a lifelong condition, treatments are available to help children work on their speech, language, social skills, and cognitive development. “They can learn social skills, they can communicate. They can become involved in jobs, have families, and they can function in the main stream,” said Dr. Dutchak.
Doctors say for the treatment to be beneficial, it has to be coordinated with school and home. “It’s essential that they are getting all the help they need in school because they may learn differently. A lot of them may have language impairments so they definitely need their speech and language therapies,” said Dr. Dutchak.