Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition that affects a person’s nervous system. Autism, also called ASD, is usually characterized by a lack of social awareness, social skills or communication difficulties.

ASD presents in different ways in different individuals. One person may have relatively mild symptoms and require minimal support or therapy, while others may have autism symptoms that greatly affect their day-to-day life and function.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Difficulty making eye contact with others
  • Daughter with autism holding hands with father Problems making friends or interacting with others
  • Does not communicate well with others
  • Starts speaking at a later age than other children or doesn’t speak at all
  • Reluctance or refusal to speak in social settings
  • Repeats words or phrases (echolalia) or repeats parts of dialogue from TV or movies
  • Repeated movements, such as rocking or flapping fingers or hands
  • Increased or decreased sensitivity to certain things around him or her, such as lights, sounds, touch or taste
  • Rituals, or insisting that certain things must be done in an exact way every time

Resources for Parents and Children

The Division of Child Development and Rehabilitation at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois provides comprehensive medical evaluation and diagnostic services and ongoing treatment of children with autism, including therapy plans, school recommendations and medication management.

OSF Children’s Hospital is also a founding member of The Autism Collective, a collaboration with Easterseals Central Illinois. The Autism Collective was created to provide families with a more seamless experience as they seek care and support for autism.

Resources for Adults and Adolescents

The Adult Diagnostic Clinic at ​OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center evaluates adolescents age 14 and up and adults of all ages.

While many people with ASD are diagnosed in childhood, some adults may have an autism spectrum condition that has never been diagnosed – especially in those who grew up before autism was recognized as a neurological condition.

father and son with autism A diagnosis is important because it:

  • Helps individuals understand their situation and gives them a sense of self
  • Avoids inappropriate labels such as lazy, unmotivated or stubborn
  • May help qualify an individual for appropriate community assistance

Evaluation and diagnosis

Each appointment is tailored to fit each person’s unique needs, but in general you can expect your first appointment to last longer than a normal doctor’s appointment. These evaluations typically begin in the morning and last into the early afternoon.

During your appointment, you will meet with a neuropsychologist – a psychologist who is specially trained to understand the relationship between the brain and behavior.

The neuropsychologist will do some testing to determine if a person’s behavior meets the criteria for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. You may be asked to schedule additional appointments to help assess your strengths and weaknesses in areas such as thinking skills and academic abilities.

After your evaluation, you will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment, where your provider will explain the results of your evaluation and make recommendations for treatment or other resources.

Request an appointment

To request an autism evaluation, ask your doctor for a referral to the Adult Diagnostic Clinic at OSF Saint Francis. After we’ve received a referral from your provider, we will call you to schedule your appointment.

Referring providers can call (309) 655-7378 for further instructions.

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