Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are complex developmental disorders of brain function. Each can affect an individual’s ability through signs of impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual or severely limited activities and interests.
ASDs are defined by a definite set of behaviors that can range from very mild to severe. Children with ASDs may fail to respond to their name and often avoid eye contact. They may also have difficulty interpreting tone of voice or facial expressions and do not respond to others’ emotions appropriately. Many will engage in repetitive movements such as rocking and hair twirling. They tend to speak later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me”.
Diagnosis can be difficult for doctors because ASDs vary widely in severity and symptoms, and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected individuals or in those with multiple disabilities. Another consideration is that many of the behaviors associated with autism are shared by other disorders. For this reason, researchers have developed several sets of diagnostic criteria for ASDs.
They include: absence or impairment of imaginative and social play; impaired ability to make friends with peers; impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others; stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language; restricted patterns of interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus.
At present, there is no specific cure for ASDs. Therapies or interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms in each individual. The best-studied therapies include educational/behavioral and medical interventions. Counseling for the families of people with autism also may assist them in coping with the disorder. Educational and behavioral approaches are often core features of the overall treatment plan. These strategies emphasize structure, and intensive, skill-oriented training that is tailored to the individual.
The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 407-574-5190 for more information.