EVMS Autism Spectrum Disorder Program - FAQ
Please contact EVMS Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at (757) 446.5888 and ask for the ASD program. Your request will be reviewed and, in most cases, an appointment will be given to you. You will be sent an information packet through the mail.
The diagnosis of Autism has changed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. There are no longer separate diagnoses of Autism, Asperger's Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS. All of these diagnoses fall under the Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis which is modified by the level of severity with one being the least and three being the most severe. The two main criteria are impairments in social communication and the presence of restricted interests and/or repetitive behaviors.
The latest figures state that 1 in 64 children age 8 has an Autism Spectrum Disorder based on the Centers for Disease Control statistics. No one knows exactly why the number of individuals with ASD is increasing. ASD knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries; family income levels; lifestyle choices; or educational levels. If one member of a family has ASD, there is a greater chance of other family members having ASD. It is four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls, but we don't know why.
• Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
• Does not say single words by 16 months
• Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
• Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age
Unless you have a specific genetic disorder that causes ASD (e.g., Fragile X syndrome), there are no additional medical tests to confirm a diagnosis of ASD. Your doctor will be sure you have received a full evaluation to rule out other medical problems that mimic ASD symptoms (e.g., ADHD). An accurate diagnosis must be based on observation of the individual's communication, behavior and developmental levels. There are new, more specific psychological tests that can help make the diagnosis (e.g Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule or the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised). Other illnesses like anxiety, mood swings, and intellectual disability may be present along with an ASD so additional testing and careful diagnosis may be needed. A brief observation in one setting is usually not sufficient and a team approach to diagnosis is common. At first glance, some persons with autism may appear to have an intellectual disability, a behavior disorder, problems with hearing, or even odd or eccentric behavior. To complicate matters further, these conditions can co-occur with autism. However, it is important to distinguish autism from other conditions, since an accurate diagnosis and early identification can provide the basis for building an appropriate and effective educational and treatment program.
• social skills groups to improve social interaction
• behavior modification to help change dysfunctional behaviors
• individual therapy to ease adjustment to the diagnosis
• family therapy to help the family adjust and relate to the person with ASD
• medication to help manage anxiety, depression, frustration, and behaviors
• good medical care to help with GI problems, sleep, etc.
Yes. However, the therapies listed above can help the individual with ASD improve their level of coping and functioning significantly.
Yes. Many individuals with ASD are high-functioning and have a variety of jobs. Given sufficient support, an individual with ASD can usually have various levels of employment.
Some of the medications used to treat the symptoms of ASD can have serious side effects. The benefits of using the medication and helping an individual with ASD live more happily may be worth the risk of using the medication. Your doctor can help you with that information and in making those choices.