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Autism Awareness and Significant Signs


WRITTEN BY: Mental Health
Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Autism causes difficulties in social interaction and relationships, language and communication, and repetitive behaviors. It occurs across all racial, ethnic, and economic groups and may impact an individual from early childhood through adult life. Recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that it is more common among boys than among girls and one in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA).

First or early significant signs to look for when assessing for autism:

  • No big smiles by six months
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds or smiles by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No two-word meaningful phrases by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills by any age

Signs in older children and adults may include:

  • Functional language impairment
  • Difficulty taking the perspective of others
  • Preoccupation with facts, details, and collections
  • Lack of meaningful friendships and relationships
  • Viewed as “odd” or “eccentric” by peers
  • Appears to lack empathy

Early diagnosis and early intervention for young children and diagnostic and support services for adults is vital. With best practices, early intervention may improve outcomes throughout the lifespan. As children with autism transition to adulthood, the need for supports and services do not diminish. Those supports and services include behavioral, educational, vocational, medical, and family support services.

The Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC has a long history of serving individuals with autism across the life span and provides specialized programs including:

  • Child and adult clinics
  • Child and adult inpatient unit
  • Child wraparound
  • Preschool
  • Summer therapeutic programs
  • Vocational training and supported employment
mental health

Mental Health

Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC and its academic partner, the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, constitute one of the leading centers for research and treatment of behavioral health disorders. For more than 60 years, the integration of research, academia, and clinical services has infused best-practice research into clinical settings for the individuals who need it most. Read More