Autism Spectrum Disorders

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills that affect their behavior. This can hurt their ability to function well in school and work, as well as their personal lives. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is known as a developmental disorder because symptoms first appear in early childhood.

People with ASD generally have different ways of communicating, interacting, learning, and paying attention than most other people. Their learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities can range from severely challenged to gifted. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others do not.

Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder because of a wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms. The ASD diagnosis now covers several conditions that used to be separate: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome.

ASD Symptoms

The most common ASD symptoms fall into two categories: interacting with other people and repetitive behaviors.
Interaction/Social Communication

Children and adults with ASD might:

  • Avoid eye contact
  • Prefer to be alone
  • Have trouble relating to other people or have no interest in others at all
  • Not point at objects to show interest and not look at objects when another person points at them
  • Not respond immediately to verbal attempts to gain their attention
  • Have difficulties with the back and forth of conversation
  • Often talk at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond
  • Have facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match their words
  • Have a sing-song or flat and robot-like tone of voice
  • Have trouble predicting or understanding another person’s actions or point of view
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own
  • Prefer not to be hugged or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
  • Have trouble communicating their needs appropriately
Repetitive/Restrictive Behavior

A person with ASD may:

  • Have very focused interests; “special interests” are one of the most common characteristics of people with autism
    • Children can become obsessed by spinning objects, patterns or noises, or specific toys
    • Adults may have an intense interest in numbers, details, and facts relating to their special interest
  • Repeat actions over and over again, including repeating words or phrases
  • Dislike change in their daily activities and get upset by slight alterations in routine
Other Symptoms

ASD can also cause unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound. The sensitivity of a person with ASD can be stronger or weaker than usual. If it’s stronger, they may find the feel of certain pieces of clothing almost unbearable or hate the tastes or textures of particular foods.

People with ASD may also be moody or irritable, or they may have trouble sleeping.

Although people with ASD experience many challenges, they can also have many strengths, including:

  • Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for a long time
  • Being strong visual and auditory learners
  • Excelling in their special interest areas

Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders

There is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder. It is known that scans show differences in brain shape and structure in people with autism, compared to the brains of other people.

But what causes these differences in the brain? Researchers don’t know but are investigating a number of theories, including links to genetics (inherited or spontaneous mutations), medical problems (certain viral infections, complications during pregnancy, metabolic imbalances), and environmental factors (exposure to toxic chemicals, pollutants). Given the complexity of the disorder, and the fact that symptoms and severity vary, there may be multiple causes.


Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder can be difficult. There’s no medical test, like a blood test, to find it. Physicians are trained to make a diagnosis based on specific behavioral symptoms. In children, the input of parents, caretakers, and teachers is an important factor.

Having a medical diagnosis is important because other conditions, such as sensory processing disorder, have symptoms that are confusingly similar to those of autism. To complicate things more, people with autism can also have sensory processing issues, problems with hearing or vision, or learning problems along with their ASD. To find the right treatment, it’s important to distinguish autism from other conditions.

Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment

Although ASD typically lasts a lifetime, treatments can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function. Some of the treatments for ASD are behavioral and educational. However, there are also medications that can be prescribed to help.

Treatments may include:

  • Melatonin for insomnia
  • Glutathione for detoxification
  • Low-dose naltrexone for mood support
  • Oxytocin, which has been found to impact social interaction, support bonding, and can help treat anxiety and stress
  • Nutritional supplements to help with gut and nutrition challenges that can exist

ASD patients often have difficulties taking medicines. Some people with ASD have smell, taste, and texture issues. Many also have food and chemical allergies and intolerances. Compounding pharmacists can customize medicine for people with ASD to avoid these problems.


Compounding can help:

  • Create medicines without artificial dyes, fillers, gluten, soy, casein, sugar, or other substances
  • Improve the taste of a medication with sweeteners and dye-free flavors
  • Make sure medicines go down smoothly

How Belmar Can Help

Belmar compounds medications used to treat ASD in a variety of dosage forms and strengths that can be customized to individual needs and preferences. We’re focused on ensuring that your doctor has the best options available to help patients with ASD.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or you are concerned about any of the symptoms on this page, contact us for more information and start a conversation with your doctor. Together, you can decide if a compounded prescription might be part of a good treatment plan.

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