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Pediatric Autism Spectrum Disorder - ASD

The Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Program at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital offers a variety of services for people with ASD from infancy through adolescence.
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You may be familiar with the term “autism spectrum disorder." ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, play skills, behavior, and interests. It is usually a lifelong condition, but many people with ASD make significant progress with the appropriate interventions.

Our Approach

The Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Program at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital offers a variety of services for people with ASD from infancy through adolescence, including diagnostic evaluations, medical consultation, social skills groups, and parent consultation. Our experts take a comprehensive approach to working with patients and families to diagnose and identify the needs of children with ASD. Our clinical team will work with you to identify services to support your family and to help your child’s development.

Autism spectrum disorder can be reliably diagnosed by age 2, and symptoms often begin to develop in the first and second years of life. Early intervention is critical in improving outcomes for children with ASD, as early childhood is when most learning takes place. If you think your child is not developing normally, consider scheduling an evaluation. The earlier the diagnosis, the more we can take advantage of this important window of opportunity in brain development.

To be diagnosed with ASD, a child must have deficits in two areas:

Social communication – impairments in interacting and relating with others, using and interpreting nonverbal communication (eye contact, facial expression, gestures), understanding social situations, and developing peer relationships.

Repetitive behaviors and fixated interests – engaging in repetitive speech, use of objects or motor behaviors, having strong interests in narrow or unusual areas, insisting on following specific routines, difficulties with minor changes, and unusual responses to sensory aspects of the environment (highly sensitive to noise, showing an unusual interest in looking closely at objects).

For those seeking a diagnostic evaluation, our team will tailor your child’s evaluation plan to his or her distinct set of social, cognitive, communication, and behavioral needs. We provide state-of-the-art evaluations to help you understand your child’s diagnosis, needs and interventions that would be most beneficial. Participants in our social skills and parent consultation services will have goals and intervention plans specifically designed to address their individual needs.

Treatments, Tests, and Procedures

Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists work with children and their families to promote participation in functional activities or occupations that are meaningful to them, including self-care, motor skills, and play skills. Occupational therapy also can help when issues of self-regulation/adaptive behavior.
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Pediatric Speech and Language Therapy

If your child has issues with speech, language, cognition or voice, our therapists are here to help. Speech-language pathologists are therapist specially trained to work with your child to improve the ability to communicate with others.
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Call your preferred location to schedule an appointment or submit an online request.