About Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Children with neurodevelopmental disorders have health conditions that disrupt the way the brain and nervous system develop. There are many different types of neurodevelopmental disorders. Some we can identify when a child is young, such as autism, Down syndrome, spina bifida and very low birth weight. Others are related to illness or injury and can affect a child later in life, such as a traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, spinal cord injury, childhood cancer or stroke.
These disorders can interfere with each child’s ability to develop like their peers, learn basic skills, be successful in school and make friends. In addition, developmental challenges can affect people and their families throughout their lives. Parents must navigate a complex system of care to obtain services and information from health care providers, educators, behavioral specialists and family support agencies.
The Thompson Center was founded in June 2005, to help families with this journey. Our goal is to create family and professional partnerships that enhance service, research and teaching related to individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Common signs of autism
Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show difficulties with
- social interaction
- repetitive behaviors
- restricted interests
However, children with ASD differ greatly in the severity and types of behaviors observed. For examples of symptoms necessary for an ASD diagnosis, visit signs of autism. You can also visit the American Academy of Pediatrics web site for information and to hear audio interviews with developmental pediatricians, autism researchers and other advocates answer common questions about autism spectrum disorders. View an informative report by CBS New.
In the video below, Erik Miller, 17, speaks about growing up with ASD and identifies the challenges that he faces each day because of the disorder.
It is commonly thought that autism spectrum disorders are genetic disorders and that genetic differences account for problems in early brain development and behavior. For about 10 percent of children, we can identify a known cause such as Fragile X and chromosome 15 duplications. Researchers have identified several genes that may cause a predisposition to autism in some, but not all, children. Much remains to be learned about genetic factors. Other researchers are attempting to determine if environmental factors, such as toxins and chemicals, play a role in causing autism.
We do know there is no single cause for autism. We also know that an early theory that poor nurturing by parents caused autism is not accurate and has been completely disproved.
Prevalence of autism
- On average, one in 88 individuals is diagnosed with an ASD.
- The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies autism as an urgent national public health concern.
What to do
Unsure if your child is developing like other children? You can learn more about early child development at Learn the Signs, Act Early, a Web site sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you are concerned about your child’s development or want to find treatment services, contact the center for an appointment at 573-884-6052 or 888-720-0015 (toll-free).
Transitioning into adulthood with ASD
The Roadmap to the Future - Transitioning into Adulthood with ASD website offers information about planning for life as an adult with ASD.