Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, the origins of which are still unclear. Individuals with autism are commonly characterized by:
- Impaired social interaction
- Delayed and disordered language
- Repetitive behavior
- A restricted range of interest
Physical symptoms are also common in children with autism, though they are less well-known. These include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and insomnia. While the causes of these physical symptoms are not entirely known, they are important to treat. Aside from interfering with general health, GI discomfort and sleep deprivation can also adversely affect a child’s behavior and ability to learn.
A study released by the CDC in 2012 indicated that that one out of every 88 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It tends to affect boys more than girls.
Click here or on the image at right to view a full version of NICHQ's infographic about the lesser-known aspects of ASD.
Children with autism face many barriers in accessing healthcare. One barrier is long wait times to get a diagnosis or treatment. The earlier children are treated for autism, the more likely they are able to progress like typically developing children. This means that early intervention is crucial.
What NICHQ Is Doing
NICHQ, in partnership with Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network (ATN), is assisting 14 autism clinics across North America make changes that improve care in their systems. The Collaborative to Improve Care for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder is targeting three specific areas that affect children with autism: long wait times for treatment, constipation, and insomnia. The quality improvement teams are working directly with families to test and find successful treatment tactics to share on a wider scale.
ATN Director Dan Coury on Improving Autism Care
Video Summary: The Autism Treatment Network (ATN) Director Dan Coury, MD, speaks about how NICHQ's quality improvement program is helping centers around the continent improve care for children with autism spectrum disorders.