Participate in research buttonAutism spectrum disorder (commonly referred to as ASD) is a developmental disorder of social communication. People with ASD often express restricted repetitive behaviors or interests.

Specialists at the AARTS Center at Rush understand that an ASD diagnosis can be overwhelming.

Our experienced team also knows that, while life changing, a diagnosis can also be the beginning of a new, more promising chapter. With a clear answer of what is causing certain behaviors, our team of experts can help guide and support you. This will allow you to begin the process of helping your child move forward and reach his or her fullest potential.

Symptoms of ASD

Signs of ASD typically develop before age 3. But every person with ASD is different. For some, symptoms are obvious in infancy; others may not show clear signs until later in childhood.

Signs and symptoms of ASD differ depending on each stage of life.

Early childhood

  • Lack of smiling or facial expressions by 9 months
  • No babbling, pointing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • Significant delays in language, no words by 16 months
  • Minimal eye contact
  • Lack of interactive play
  • Regression in development
  • Any loss of speech or social skill

School age

  • Challenges with making friends or connecting with other children
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Not playing pretend games or group activities
  • Little or inconsistent reaction when people are talking to them
  • Trouble understanding or talking about feelings
  • Disinterest in other people and surroundings
  • A lack of motivation to do school work
  • Behavioral problems at home and/or school
  • Repetitive body movements (e.g., hand flapping, rocking)



  • Difficulty developing or maintaining interpersonal relationships
  • Marriage or relationship falling apart
  • Feeling isolated, alone and like you don’t fit in
  • Difficulty understanding social norms and behaviors
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Difficulty finding or maintaining a job
  • Diagnosed with mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), anxiety or obsessive-compulsive

Living with ASD

For parents and caregivers

Living with ASD

One of the first things that happens to parents of children with ASD after a diagnosis is a shift from concerned parent to advocate.

You know your child better than anyone else. Your understanding of his or her strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies is invaluable to your child’s care and treatment.

But being an advocate can be an overwhelming, exhausting and thankless job at times. That’s why specialists at the AARTS Center at Rush will work with you and your child to help guide you through your child’s care at all stages of life — from infancy through adulthood.

For adults with ASD

Two adultsAs a person living with ASD, you may see the world differently from those who are not on the spectrum. While this can be challenging, your unique perspective offers many strengths, particularly when you have the right supports and services.

The specialists at the AARTS Center appreciate how you think and how you see the world. Our dedicated team will work with you to determine your individual strengths and weaknesses. They will then recommend treatments that may help you use your unique skills and traits to reach your fullest potential.