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an autism specialist sits and works with a young child during his autism spectrum disorder treatment program As the name suggests, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) does not describe a single, easy-to-define condition but rather several related but distinct conditions that can vary in severity. Conditions once considered separate disorders, such as PDD-NOS, Asperger’s, and autism, are now regarded as related to the autism spectrum. Like other developmental disorders, ASD can impact people in many ways, from the ability to communicate through speech and language to social skills. Harmony’s autism spectrum disorder treatment can offer help and support.

Estimates suggest that autism affects about one percent of the world’s population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the U.S., one in 54 children will be diagnosed with autism. Understanding ASD and developing evidence-based plans of care is something that can help to improve the quality of life for people living with autism.

At Harmony, we provide clients with an autism spectrum disorder treatment covering various services, including diagnosis, assessment, individual therapy, family support, and more. Call us at 304.410.0082 to learn more about what we can offer you or a loved one with our high-quality, personalized mental health care options.

Understanding ASD

Developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder arise during a person’s developmental period and can impair their physical, social, mental, and behavioral development. Growth and developmental disorders such as autism are typically lifelong conditions. Every person with autism develops differently, has different strengths, and faces other challenges. 

ASD is often accompanied by sensory sensitivity and medical problems such as:

  • Mental health challenges like anxiety and sleep disorders
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) issues
  • Seizures

Autism is often diagnosed early in life. Developmental delays are typically noticeable when a person is two or three years old, but autism can be diagnosed in children as young as 18 months. 

The Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Because autism is a spectrum, the signs and symptoms of autism can differ significantly. Some people show behavioral and developmental differences in infancy. Other people may not be diagnosed until adulthood, believing instead that they simply have social or generalized anxiety.

There are several signs of autism that parents and caregivers can identify in infants. Remember that babies can exhibit these symptoms but typically develop into their toddler years.

Signs of autism in babies include:

  • No reaction to their name by the time they are one year old
  • Poor eye contact
  • Poor nonverbal communication
  • Hand flapping
  • Rocking
  • No pretend play

By the time a person reaches the age of two or three years old, the developmental delays common in autism spectrum disorder are usually more noticeable.

Signs of autism in toddlers include:

  • Speech delays or remaining nonverbal
  • Hand flapping
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Fixation on an object or toy
  • Walking on tiptoe
  • Rocking
  • Poor eye contact
  • Difficulty engaging in play with others
  • Obsession with routine
  • Sensory sensitivity (sensitive to sounds, smells, or textures)

Symptoms of autism in adults include:

  • Difficulty reading social cues and interacting in social situations
  • Fixation on one or two favorite subjects or topics
  • Focus on subjects with complex details
  • Difficulty understanding jokes, sarcasm, figurative language
  • Poor emotional regulation
  • Difficulty accepting change
  • Developing and following strict routines
  • Difficulty relating to and building relationships with others
  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Flat affect

If you or someone you love displays any signs and symptoms associated with autism, our ASD treatment can help. At Harmony, we offer ASD treatment to our clients residing in West Virginia.

Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Like many other complex mental health conditions, it’s impossible to pinpoint a single cause of autism. Instead, it’s known that various genetic, biological, and environmental risk factors contribute to whether or not a person is likely to develop autism spectrum disorder.

A few factors that increase a person’s risk for autism include:

  • Family history – People with an immediate family member on the autism spectrum, like a parent or sibling, are more likely to have autism themselves.
  • Genetic mutations – Genetic differences such as fragile X syndrome can increase a person’s risk of developing ASD.
  • Birth complications – Low birth weight, premature birth, and other birth complications increase the risk of developmental differences.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy – Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a common cause of intellectual and developmental delays. Certain infections, medicines, heavy metals, and other toxins may also impact a person developing in utero.
  • Infections and illnesses – Newborn jaundice and viral infections have been linked to ASD.

No matter the cause of autism, we are committed to providing comprehensive treatment and support for those affected by this disorder. Our team of knowledgeable clinicians specializes in evidenced-based autism treatments, collaborating with each person or family to create an ASD treatment plan catered specifically for them.

ASD Treatment Options

If you have recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, embarking on a treatment plan can be intimidating. However, many options are available, so it is crucial to research the best program for you or your loved one. Understanding different treatments and therapies will help you to choose a treatment plan that is right for the individual. 

As more healthcare professionals turn their attention to improving ASD treatments, there are now countless resources that can provide helpful insight into the most effective therapy strategies. Clients and families must work closely with their medical team to determine the best plan for them, as every person’s needs are unique. With hard work and dedication, it is possible to make great strides in understanding and treating ASD to create a life of meaning, progress, and fulfillment. 

While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, experts have developed some therapies to help people with autism manage their symptoms and achieve the highest quality of life possible. 

Treatment for ASD might include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT and other behavioral therapies can help people understand their developmental differences, learn positive behaviors, and cope with the emotional impact of neurodivergence.
  • Speech therapy – People with developmental differences may struggle with speech or language. Speech therapy can help them develop an understanding of figurative language, conversational etiquette, and how to remain engaged with a conversational partner.
  • Play therapy – Play and social interaction can be challenging for children with autism. Play therapy allows people with autism to play in a controlled, supportive environment.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy – This non-drug, non-invasive treatment uses magnetic pulses to stimulate specific brain areas. TMS is being explored for its potential in diagnosing and treating autism spectrum disorder.

Proper care and therapeutic support can help our clients live fulfilling lives.  

Discover Harmony’s ASD Treatment in West Virginia

We offer adequate care to people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, from diagnosis and assessment to individual therapy, family support, and more. At Harmony, we are committed to helping people in our communities access life-changing mental health care. Reach out to us today at 304.410.0082 or contact us online to experience the transformative care our warm and caring providers offer.