Home » Pediatric Services » Diagnosis Treated » Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders are a range of neurobiological disorders. There are five specific diagnoses currently considered to be within the spectrum. These diagnoses are classic autism, Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD).

Autism Spectrum Disorders have several hallmark characteristics in common. Children are noted to have difficulty with communication and social interaction. Repetitive behaviors of one type or another are common as well as the existence of rigid routines that make unexpected change to typical daily structure difficult. Children who have a diagnosis within the Autism Spectrum frequently respond differently to sensory stimuli. Some children will have very heightened awareness of sensations while others will seem to be unaware of sensory input. Most often a combination of sensory awareness exists where a child will have a heightened awareness of some sensations and a decreased awareness of others. Children with a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder can have a wide range of cognitive abilities from normal intelligence to severely cognitively impaired.

At Duke, therapists are highly skilled and encompass an array of training techniques to address the varied developmental, motor, and social delays that may exist for a child. The occupational therapist will explore strategies to help the child and family function more appropriately at home, school, and within the community. The physical therapist will play a role in the treatment team if there are concerns over the child’s ability to physically navigate the typical physical settings of the environment.


PT Treatment

  • Gross motor skills

OT Treatment

  • Activities of Daily Living/Self-Care
  • Aquatic Therapy
  • Feeding Therapy
  • Fine Motor skills
  • Handwriting
  • Sensory Integration
  • Therapeutic Listening

Related Links

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Autism Speaks