Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatment

Saint Sophie's Psychiatric Center

Fargo, North Dakota

Autism Spectrum Disorder is estimated to affect one in every 54 children. It is an ongoing public health concern. It is the subject of one of the most significant ongoing studies in the US as we seek to understand more of the factors that make a person more likely to develop this disorder.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is classified as a developmental disability. Those with ASD experience challenges with social interactions, communications, and behaviors. The spectrum of ASD ranges from those who barely show any symptoms to those whose symptoms include being completely nonverbal. ASD affects all ethnic groups and can be found in every socioeconomic group as well. There is no medical detection for autism.

What Is Aspergers Syndrome?

Aspergers Syndrome is a high-functioning disorder on the mild end of the autism spectrum. Those with Aspergers may have problems with social interaction, engage in repetitive behavior and stand firm in their beliefs. There is usually no delay in their cognitive development or their language skills. Those with Aspergers often display above-average intelligence. In 2013 the term was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and replaced with Autism Spectrum Disorder which groups together several diagnoses.

What Are Early Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

In most cases, autism can be diagnosed by 2 to 3 years old, with many diagnosed by 18 months. There are still a large number of children who remain undiagnosed until they are older than 4-years-old. Early signs and symptoms of autism include:

  • Aptness to respond to sounds but seem unaware of people speaking to them
  • Interest in people but have no idea how to interact with them
  • Echo words or phrases said to them
  • Unable to express their needs using typical motions or words
  • Incapacity to play games where they need to pretend to perform an activity
  • Difficulty adapting to changes in routine
  • Continuously repeat actions
  • Display an unusual response to how things might smell, taste, look, feel or sound
  • Inability to point at an object to show interest in it
  • Incapacity to look at things when someone else points to them
  • Difficulty relating to others
  • Lack of interest in other people
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Preference for being alone
  • Unable to talk about their feelings or relate to the feelings of others
  • Adverse to being held or cuddled, or they only want to be cuddled if they initiate it
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What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder? What Puts You at Risk for Autism?

Science has yet to determine all the causes of ASD. There seem to be several environmental, biological, and genetic factors that make a child more likely to have a disorder on the autism spectrum. Research shows that genetics and children born to older parents can increase the chances of having autism. If parents have one child with autism, there is a chance that any other children they have may also have autism.

How is Autism Diagnosed?

Autism can be challenging to diagnose as there is no medical testing available to diagnose it. Diagnosis is made based on the developmental history and behaviors of a child. While a diagnosis is occasionally possible by 18 months, some children are not diagnosed until they are much older. In some cases, autism is not diagnosed until the person is in their adolescent years or even as an adult. Unfortunately, those who are not diagnosed until much later in life may not receive the help they need to adjust to societal expectations of developing friendships and communication skills.

How is Autism Treated?

The treatment path for autism can vary due to the age of the child at diagnosis. In general, the treatment for autism is broken down into four preferred categories:

Behavior and Communication

When the focus is on behavior and communication, the treatment can consist of directed therapy that involves both the child and other family members. It encourages positive behaviors while discouraging negative behaviors. The treatments can include:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Assistive technology
  • Relationship-based approaches
  • Occupational therapy
  • Social skills training
  • Speech therapy


There are some theories that making changes to a child's diet can help with the symptoms of autism. These changes are based on the removal of food allergies and the addition of vitamins and mineral supplements.


Medications used in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder are focused on specific symptoms. Areas that respond best to pharmaceutical intervention include:

  • Irritability and aggression
  • Abnormal social behavior
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Insomnia

Why Choose Saint Sophie's Psychiatric Center?

St. Sophie's Psychiatric Center provides exceptional mental health services to those in Minnesota and North Dakota. We can treat those with autism spectrum disorder using psychiatric counseling, behavior modification, and medication management.

To learn more about how we can help with ASD, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Request an Appointment Today