Autism Specialist

Seashore Pediatrics

Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine located in Wall Township, NJ

It’s currently estimated that one in 59 children have autism, a severe developmental disability that’s diagnosed at an early age and lasts throughout their lifetime. Catherine Meli, MD, and Naheed Rahmet, MD, at Seashore Pediatrics, perform developmental screenings to identify children with autism, then they work together with the family to find the treatment and support needed for each child. If you have questions about autism or would like to schedule a screening, call the office in Wall Township, New Jersey, or book an appointment online.

Autism Q & A

What is autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental disability that includes a true spectrum of individuals. They all have the same challenges, but to varying degrees, and they have vastly different abilities.

Some with autism need constant support because they can’t speak or perform simple daily activities like putting on a shirt.

Others are extremely verbal, but their abilities still differ. Among this verbal group, some may struggle with daily tasks and have anxiety disorders, while others become independent and only need occasional support.

No matter where a person is on the spectrum of abilities, all people with autism share the same core characteristics:

  • Deficits in social communication and social interaction
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, or activities
  • Symptoms that are present from early childhood even if they’re not recognized until later
  • Symptoms that impair their ability to function socially, in their jobs, or other areas

Children and teens with autism struggle to have back-and-forth conversations and they don’t grasp metaphors or nonverbal communication.

What are the signs of autism?

Some children exhibit signs of autism as early as six months to one year of age; others may not have obvious symptoms until they get closer to school age. It’s also possible for your child to develop normally in their early years, then suddenly regress and lose their skills.

Early signs of autism include:

Communication — these signs show problems with social interaction:

  • Fails to respond to their name
  • Delayed speech
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Resists cuddling or holding
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Repeats words and phrases verbatim
  • Doesn’t interact to share an interest

Behavior — these behaviors reflect restrictive activities and limited interests:

  • Performs the same movements repeatedly
  • Must follow specific routines or rituals
  • Uncoordinated or odd movements
  • Fixates on one object or activity
  • Doesn’t engage in make-believe play
  • Specific and limited food interests

It’s common for those with autism to have sensory disorders, either over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to lights, sounds, smells, and temperature.

How is autism diagnosed?

At Seashore Pediatrics, the doctors can identify autism through developmental screening. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for ASD at their 18- and 24-month well-child visit. Screening can be done at any time, however, if a red flag is identified during a well-child visit or you notice signs at home.

If you’re worried about your child’s behavior, call Seashore Pediatrics or book an appointment online.