According to the organization Autism Speaks, “Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.”
These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger Syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Vision problems are common with autism and many times overlooked. Characteristic autistic behaviors, such as poor eye contact, looking though or beyond objects, extreme aversion to light, unusual reaction to sight, lack of reciprocal play, inordinate fear of heights or lack of appropriate fear of heights and stimming, could all be visual symptoms.
Visual problems are common with those that have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Having a visual evaluation by a developmental optometrist may lead to treatment that can have a ripple effect on sensory development and integration.