Taking the Work Out of Blood Work: A Provider's Guide

What are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)?

Doctor with parent and child

ASD are "spectrum disorders" and can range from mild to severe. While individuals with ASD differ in the severity of symptoms and the exact nature of symptoms, they are likely to have challenges in three areas:

People with ASD may have absent or limited speech. If they have speech, they may use it to recite or repeat words. They may also experience limited ability to use words to convey their wants or needs and limited ability to use them in conversation and social interaction.

Social Interactions.
Persons with ASD have difficulty understanding social cues, e.g., tone of voice or facial expressions. They may also have difficulty maintaining eye contact in certain situations.

Play and Routines.
Individuals with ASD are likely to engage in repetitive behaviors or have narrow and intense interests. Routine is also very important, and changes in routine may lead to anxiety or resistance. Another characteristic of ASD is what some describe as "sensory overload." For these individuals, sounds seem louder, lights brighter, or smells stronger.

Working with Patients with ASD

ASD may affect an individual's ability to communicate effectively, report medical conditions, self-regulate behaviors, and interact with others to get needs met. This can make treating a patient with ASD challenging. Simplifying language and using visual supports can improve communication between you and your patient with ASD. All children can benefit from an organized approach to routine clinic procedures, but this is especially important for children with ASD. Patient flow, planning, and team communication are some of the key factors that can affect the experience that patients with ASD have in medical settings.