Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: April 2017 - Autism Spectrum

    March 31, 2017

    What is the Autism Spectrum?
    A child with autism may look like any other child, but if you met one you would find that he or she is unlike other kids in some ways. It may be hard for an autistic child to play with other kids, or to make friends, or to learn new things.
    It seems that more and more families are told their child has autism. What does this mean?
    What is the autism spectrum?
    Autism is a disorder that affects the way a person’s brain and body work. Because there are many kinds of autism, the condition is called autism spectrum disorder. The way the brain works in people with autism makes it hard for them to understand the world around them. Some people with autism are very smart, but cannot connect with others the way we expect. Some need extra help understanding things.
    What causes autism?
    No one knows why some people have autism. It tends to appear early in life. Some experts believe it is a problem with the genes the person is born with, combined with something that happens before or during birth, such as the mother being sick during pregnancy or problems at birth. 
    Autism is NOT caused by how you parent your child. Most importantly, many studies have proved that vaccines DO NOT cause autism. So please, give your child those shots to protect him or her and others around them from illness.
    How do people with autism act?
    People with autism often act unlike other people. Autistic children might:

    • Have trouble talking, make strange sounds, or not talk at all
    • Look at and listen to others less often
    • Have a hard time when things change
    • Flap their hands, spin or laugh a lot
    • Sit quietly and not look at others
    • Not be able to keep up eye contact
    • Play or act differently than other children
    • Be very active or very quiet, and like to spend time alone and do things by themselves
    • Do and say the same things over and over

    How do you know if your child has autism?
    At each well-child visit, the doctor makes sure your child is growing on schedule. If your pediatrician is concerned, he/she might give your child more tests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that doctors check for autism during the 18 and 24 month checkups.
    What can you do about autism?
    There is no cure for autism. But, there are ways to help your child be the best he or she can be. The earlier treatment is started, the better. A few ways to help your child learn language and living skills are through:

    • Speech therapy to help your child talk and understand words
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    • Occupational skills therapy which can help with balance, coordination and handwriting
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    • Social skills therapy which can help your child learn to plan and talk with others

    If you think your child might have autism, talk to your doctor. He or she might suggest you contact the New York State’s Early Intervention Program.
    For more information contact the Autism Society at 800.657.0881 or 800.2AUTISM, or visit

    Autism Society, “Growing Up Together”:
    Autism Speaks, “What is Autism?”:
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Facts about ASD”:
    KidsHealth from Nemours, “Autism”:
    National Institute of Mental Health, “Autism Spectrum Disorder”:
    National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,  “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Condition Information”:


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