Little boy suffering from Autism sitting on the couch upset.


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Autism is both one of the most talked about and least understood mental health disorders in the United States today. Known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it is a condition that causes developmental delays, learning disabilities, communication problems, abnormal social skills, and behavioral problems that range from mild to severe. ASD also includes several delineations, including Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Development Disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

It is precisely because of this wide range of symptoms that many outside of the medical community misunderstand and misinterpret autism. But because of its pervasive nature – the CDC estimates that 1 percent of the world’s population is affected by some form of autism – we are learning more and more about autism.

ASD is also prevalent and rising amongst children. A recently released CDC study conducted across 11 states shows that, amongst 4-year-olds, 1 in 64 were affected by autism. That rate (15.6 percent) is up from the 14.1 percent of the same study conducted in 2014. Boys are four times more likely to have ASD than girls.

And because of the wide range of symptoms, many people diagnosed with ASD can be highly functional. However, just because someone is functional does not mean that they are not suffering from mental health concerns. And should these concerns go untreated, ASD can lead to a higher incidence of immune disorders (allergies, asthma), diabetes, heart disease, motor disorders, cancer, obesity, schizophrenia and even suicidal thoughts and behavior. It can also come to dominate all phases of your life.

That is why it is important to obtain an early and accurate diagnosis, followed by targeted treatment – which can be supplied by qualified specialists, including child psychiatrists.

child with autism unable to show emotion on their face.

How autism works

The signs of autism will usually make themselves known by age 2 or 3 – though they may also appear earlier. Due to its effect on developmental functions, ASD can be difficult to pinpoint and can occur at different ages. ASD also includes a wide range of symptoms – known as a spectrum.


The CDC lists these indicators:

  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact
  • Does not respond to name by 9 months of age
  • Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
  • Does not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age
  • Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age (e.g., does not wave goodbye)
  • Does not share interests with others (e.g., shows you an object that he or she likes by 15 months of age)
  • Does not point or look at what you point to by 18 months of age
  • Does not notice when others are hurt or sad by 24 months of age
  • Does not pretend in play (e.g., does not pretend to “feed” a doll by 30 months of age)
  • Shows little interest in peers
  • Has trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about own feelings at 36 months of age or older
  • Does not play games with turn taking by 60 months of age

New studies indicate that autism affects early brain development in multiple ways. In fact, doctors now believe ASD can inhibit 8 to 10 factors that are present in normal brain function. And research indicates that ASD can be triggered by multiple factors – whether it be genetics or environmental factors that trigger the condition. However, there are also certain universal risk factors that increase the likelihood of ASD, including:

  • Having a child at an older age
  • Having a previous child with ASD
  • Genetic conditions (including Rett Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, or Down’s Syndrome)
  • Extreme premature birth or a very low birth weight
  • Pregnancies less than one year apart

Whatever the causes and symptoms is of utmost importance that you get any suspected ASD spectrum diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Parents spending time with children and able to communicated with their child who has autism

How psychiatry works to treat autism

While there is no cure for autism, traditional psychiatry can offer many treatments that maximize your child’s ability to function. And that is the key to treatment: minimizing autism spectrum disorder symptoms and supporting development and learning.

That is why it is important to intervene as early as possible, as treatment will help your child to not fall behind in school or in the development of critical social, communication, functional and behavioral skills.

Doctors are also discovering that an overwhelming number of children with ASD have at least one additional co-existing medical or psychiatric condition (70 percent) and a significant number even have two or more such conditions (40 percent). That is why it is important that a trained healthcare professional (such as a psychiatrist) assess your child so that they can take in the entirety of your child’s mental condition.

The same goes for adults who may be experiencing any ASD spectrum symptoms, as treatment can be supplied at any age.

Other mental health disorders. Teens and adults with autism spectrum disorder often experience other mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Your doctor, mental health professional, and community advocacy and service organizations can offer help.

How Bridgepoint works to help you

Thanks to honed psychiatric methods, trained professionals at Bridgepoint can target a wide range of ASD issues via:

  • Behavior and communication therapies – Our doctors can address the range of social, language and behavioral difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Educational therapies – Children with ASD often respond well to highly structured educational programs, and we can target programs that will help produce developmental progress.
  • Family therapies – It is important that parents and other family members learn how to interact with ASD children. This will only increase their social interaction skills and enable them to deal with the wider world.
  • Occupational/physical therapy – This improves the patient’s ability deal with the activities of daily living, while also improving movement and balance.
  • Medication – Specific medications are proven to aid in control of autism symptoms, including the treatment of hyperactivity, severe behavioral problems, and anxiety.

Our professionals will also help treat and ensure against possible medical health issues often associated with ASD, including epilepsy, sleep disorders, limited food preferences, or stomach problems.


Get help today and change your life

Bridgepoint clinicians understand the intricate and very real nature of autism and how best to address the changes that occur in patients suffering from this issue.

If you are concerned about ASD in your child, please do not hesitate to call our offices today and schedule an appointment with our caring professionals. We will ensure that you get the assistance and mental health support that you need. We can set up an in-office appointment or talk with you over a tele-health visit to get started.


Contact us at our offices in Smyrna between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 770-858-5377.

Visit Our Resources Page

Bridgepoint encourages clinicians, patients, and their loved ones to research new methodologies and techniques to improve mental health and wellbeing. To assist with your own learning, we’ve put together a variety of resources on a variety of topics – including genomics – to help you on your mental health journey.

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Lonely sad boy at home