What Does It Mean When a Child Is on the Spectrum?

Jun 05, 2023
What Does It Mean When a Child Is on the Spectrum?
Does your toddler or child have marked differences in behavior and affect from others their age? Could it be autism spectrum disorder? Learn more about treatments for children on the spectrum.

If your child has brain-based differences that impact development, communication, learning, and thinking, doctors may have told you that your loved one has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). You’ve heard references to children being “on the spectrum.” But what does that mean? 

A diagnosis of ASD includes the following diagnoses: autism; Asperger syndrome (a milder form of autism), and pervasive developmental disorder (delays in communication and socialization). Your child has one of those conditions. 

ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes atypical communication, learning, and thinking patterns. ASD symptoms can be mild to very severe. 

Dr. Charles Niesen, our board-certified pediatric neurologist at AMS Neurology in Pasadena, California, treats children with ASD. ASD presents in many different ways. Our caring staff develops an individualized plan of treatment based on your child’s unique needs. 

ASD symptoms 

You may have noticed differences in your baby or toddler’s behavior when compared with other children their age. Perhaps your toddler’s language is delayed. Your child may not look at you directly when you call their name. They might not smile at you when you smile at them or pick them up. Following are some major categories of ASD symptoms. 

Verbal communication differences 

As your child grows, nonadaptive communication behaviors limit their world. If another child talks to your child, they may not respond at all or respond in inappropriate ways such as crying, yelling, or speaking about something unrelated. 

Some children with ASD have echolalia, meaning they more or less repeat what another person has said. Others have robotic speech or talk in a sing-song voice. 

Poor nonverbal communication

Your child may try to avoid eye contact. When this happens, others think your child is rude or uninterested in what’s happening. As a toddler, your child might just cry when they need something; they’re unable to use gestures such as pointing to aid communication. 

A narrow range of interests 

Your child may be fixated on one particular topic. As they grow, they might only want to learn about that topic, whether it’s birds, whales, or airplanes. They may give monologues on the subject but be unable to hold a two-way conversation. 

Repetitive, rigid behaviors

Your child may engage in repetitive behaviors or routines. They might get very upset at a seemingly minor change in their daily routine. They may want to do the same thing the same way every day. They may flap their hands continually or bang an object repeatedly. 

Comprehensive treatment for ASD

Early treatment for autism yields the best results. AMS Neurology uses a multipronged treatment approach for helping children with ASD. We provide psychological care, medication management, and guidance on schooling options. 

We also work with you to help you manage your child’s behavior at home. We provide you with resources so you can practice prosocial communication and language strategies with your child. 

For expert diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder in children, call our office at AMS Neurology or book an appointment online today. We provide help and hope so your child can develop to their fullest potential.