Autism Awareness Month

Ross Arneson, Psy.D., ext 316

April is the National Autism Awareness Month, which reminds us all to become more aware and informed about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).  According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a broad and complex neurodevelopmental disorder. Signs of ASD typically appear early in childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact socially with others. While there is some debate on whether the rates of ASD are on the rise, a March 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that the prevalence of autism is estimated to be 1 in every 68 births in the United States. With  the help of great organizations like the Autism Society and Autism Speaks, individuals with autism and their families are able to be a more visible presence in our communities.  By now, many of us may know and love someone with ASD.  

There is no cure for ASD, but there are many helpful therapies, interventions, and services available that can greatly improve one's daily functioning. Early diagnosis and treatment intervention services are significant indicators for improved outcomes. Parents are encouraged to track their child’s development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created milestone checklists for children, ages 2 months to 5 years-old. The free and printable milestone checklists can be found at:  If you or someone you care about is wondering about their child’s development, do not wait to act. Contact your medical doctor or mental health provider to schedule an appointment.   Below, you will find the Autism Society’s list of early signs to look for in children.

Here are some signs to look for in the children in your life:


  • Lack of or delay in spoken language

  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)

  • Little or no eye contact

  • Lack of interest in peer relationships

  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play

  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects