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Transform Autism Into Empowerment

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1 in 36

children in the U.S. have autism

What Causes Autism?

The development of autism is influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and research has shed light on the complexities surrounding its origins.

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Genetic Risk Factors

Autism often shows a familial tendency, suggesting a genetic component. Specific gene changes increase the likelihood of a child developing autism. These genetic alterations can be inherited from parents, even if the parents themselves do not have autism. Alternatively, these changes can occur spontaneously in the early stages of embryo development or in the sperm and/or egg. It's crucial to note that the majority of these gene changes do not singularly cause autism but elevate the risk for the disorder.

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Differences in Brain Biology

These genetic and environmental influences predominantly impact critical aspects of early brain development. Some factors influence the communication between brain nerve cells (neurons), while others affect the coordination of communication between different brain regions. Ongoing research aims to unravel these intricacies, with the ultimate goal of developing treatments and support mechanisms to enhance the quality of life for individuals with autism.

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Environmental Risk Factors

  • Certain environmental factors can either augment or diminish the risk of autism in individuals with a genetic predisposition. However, the impact of each factor on risk tends to be modest.

    • Increased Risk:

  • Advanced parental age (applies to either parent).

  • Pregnancy and birth complications, including extreme prematurity (before 26 weeks), low birth weight, and multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.).

  • Pregnancies spaced less than one year apart.

Decreased Risk: Adequate intake of prenatal vitamins containing folic acid, both before conception and throughout pregnancy.

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No Effect on Risk

Vaccines: Extensive research over the last two decades has conclusively demonstrated that childhood vaccinations do not cause autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics has compiled a comprehensive list of this research, affirming the safety of vaccines.

  • Educational Support: Tailoring educational approaches to the individual's learning style can significantly contribute to their academic success. Specialized education plans, individualized instruction, and additional support can make a substantial difference.

  • Early Intervention Programs: Early intervention programs target infants and toddlers showing signs of developmental delays, providing support and therapies to enhance their overall development.

  • Sensory Integration Therapy: Sensory integration therapy is designed to help individuals manage sensory sensitivities or difficulties, which are common in those with ASD. This therapy aims to improve how the brain processes and responds to sensory information.

Treatment for

Initiating treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as early as possible is crucial to alleviate challenges and enhance the individual's current and future life.

​Behavioral Interventions

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): This is considered one of the most effective treatments for ASD. ABA focuses on behavior-based interventions to enhance daily living skills, social and communication skills, and educational and occupational skills. It is particularly effective in addressing challenging behaviors that may impede development, safety, and overall well-being.

  • Parent Training and Coaching:  ABA often incorporates parent training or coaching services. This empowers parents with strategies to support their child's behaviors and overall development. Parental involvement is crucial in reinforcing positive behaviors and fostering a supportive environment.

  • Medication: Medications may be prescribed to manage specific challenges associated with ASD. Common issues include hyperactivity, irritability, or sleep difficulties. It's important to work closely with the child's doctor to determine the most suitable medication and dosage.

Speech and Language Therapy

  • Many individuals with ASD face challenges in communication. Speech and language therapy can be beneficial in improving communication skills, including verbal and non-verbal communication.

  • Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy focuses on developing skills needed for daily living, including fine motor skills, self-care routines, and sensory processing.

Recognizing Symptoms of Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) manifests through a variety of social communication challenges, repetitive behaviors, and distinct interests. Recognizing these symptoms is essential for early identification and appropriate support:

Social Communication and Interaction Skills:

  • Individuals with ASD often encounter difficulties in social communication and interaction. Recognizing these challenges at different developmental stages is crucial.
    - Limited Eye Contact: Avoidance or lack of eye contact during social interactions.
    - Delayed Responsiveness: Failure to respond to their name by 9 months of age.
    - Expression Challenges: Inability to display facial expressions like happiness, sadness, anger, or surprise by 9 months.
    - Interactive Play: Difficulty engaging in simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months.
    - Gesture Usage: Limited or no use of gestures (e.g., waving goodbye) by 12 months.
    - Lack of Shared Interests: Failure to share interests with others by 15 months.

    - Pointing Absence: Not pointing to show something interesting by 18 months.
    - Empathy Challenges: Insensitivity to the emotions of others, not noticing when someone is hurt or upset by 24 months.

    - Limited Social Engagement: Failure to notice and join other children in play by 36 months.
    - Lack of Pretend Play: Absence of imaginative play, like pretending to be a teacher or superhero, by 48 months.
    - Expression Through Arts: Failure to engage in expressive activities like singing, dancing, or acting by 60 months.

  • Restricted or Repetitive Behaviors and Interests:  ASD is characterized by unique behaviors and interests that differentiate it from conditions solely focused on social communication.

  1. Order Sensitivity: Getting upset when ordered items or routines are changed.

  2. Echolalia: Repeating words or phrases persistently.

  3. Rigid Play Patterns: Consistent, unchanging ways of playing with toys.

  4. Focus on Parts: Overemphasis on specific parts of objects (e.g., wheels).

  5. Discomfort with Changes: Upset reactions to minor changes.

  6. Obsessive Interests: Fixation on specific, often narrow, interests.

  7. Routine Dependency: A strong need to follow certain routines.

  8. Repetitive Movements: Hand-flapping, body-rocking, or spinning in circles.

  9. Sensory Sensitivity: Unusual reactions to sensory stimuli (sound, smell, taste, look, or feel).

  • Other Characteristics: Many individuals with ASD may exhibit additional characteristics beyond social and behavioral aspects.

  1. Language Delay: Delayed language development.

  2. Motor Skill Delay: Delayed movement or motor skills.

  3. Cognitive Delays: Delayed cognitive or learning skills.

  4. Behavioral Challenges: Hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention.

  5. Epilepsy: Presence of epilepsy or seizure disorder.

  6. Unusual Habits: Distinct eating and sleeping habits.

  7. Gastrointestinal Issues: Conditions like constipation.

  8. Emotional Responses: Unusual mood or emotional reactions.

  9. Anxiety or Stress: Experience anxiety, stress, or excessive worry.

  10. Atypical Fear Responses: Lack of fear or heightened fear compared to expectations.

If you're ready to receive help with your autism, reach out to our compassionate psychiatrists today!

Autism FAQs

  • What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
    Transcranial magnetic stimulation, often referred to as TMS is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. TMS is typically used when antidepressant medications haven’t been effective, have ceased working, or as an alternative to medication.
  • How does TMS work?
    TMS involves delivering magnetic pulses to specific parts of the brain.
  • How long is TMS treatment?
    A typical initial course of treatment is about 19-37 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.
  • Is TMS Therapy covered by my insurance?
    A vast majority of commercial and Medicare plans have recognized the effectiveness of treating depression with TMS Therapy and now cover TMS as part of their plans.
  • Is TMS Therapy a good alternative for patients who cannot tolerate the side effects of antidepressant medications?
    TMS does not circulate in the blood throughout the body, so it does not have side effects like weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, dry mouth, sedation, etc. The most common side effects reported during clinical trials were headache and scalp discomfort —generally mild to moderate—occurring less frequently after the first week of treatment
  • Is TMS Therapy like other alternative therapies that use magnets to treat some illnesses?
    No. TMS Therapy involves a unique method of using pulsed magnetic fields for a therapeutic benefit. The intensity of the magnetic field is similar to that of an MRI. These techniques differ radically from the popular use of low intensity, static magnetic fields. Those products deliver weak and undirected static fields that are not capable of activating brain cells. The activation and stimulation of brain cells is a key part of why TMS is so effective.
  • Does it hurt?
    While there may be some minor discomfort at the treatment site (where the device touches your head), it generally subsides within the first week of treatment. There is no sedation, or impact on your alertness. You can read, watch TV, or talk with your treatment coordinator during your session, and you can drive home immediately after treatment.


Comprehensive Psychiatric Services (CPS) is a leading provider of compassionate assistance for individuals facing the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Our skilled professionals specialize in understanding the complexities of ASD, delivering expert and personalized care. At CPS, we are dedicated to evidence-based treatments, thorough assessments, and a patient-centered approach, making us a top choice for those seeking effective support in managing autism.


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