|What is autism? How do you know if your child has autism?|
What makes Autism Special
What is autism?Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects people differently and to varying degrees.It’s important to stay away from labels such as “high-functioning” and “low-functioning,” because people who are classified as high-functioning often struggle in ways that are not obvious, and people who are classified as low-functioning often have talents and skills that are not obvious. Early childhood interventions should focus on harnessing strengths, rather than erasing the differences between autistic children and neurotypical kids.
Why can autism be a blessing, rather than a disease?Children with autism can be very bright. Even if someone with autism is non-verbal, studies have shown that they might be more intelligent than neurotypical people. People with autism are up to 40 percent faster at problem-solving, because they are better at recognizing patterns. People with non-verbal autism have shown a superior ability to process complex patterns than neurotypical people.People with autism have been shown to have excellent memory.People often don’t realize that people with ASD can be very creative.People with ASD can be very honest. They tell it like it is, which can be so refreshing!
Early signs:Often, parents can track signs of autism even before a child’s first birthday. Usually a diagnosis is made around age 3. Here are some early signs of autism:Speaks later than typical or not at all (nonverbal)Repetition in language or movement, such as repeating the same word or sounds, hand flapping, or any repeated movement Atypical nonverbal communication, including avoiding eye contact, giving few facial expressions, or having a monotone voicePrefers solitary or parallel play rather than engaging in associative or cooperative play with other childrenExtremely distressed by changes, including new foods or changes in schedulePreference for predictable, structured play over spontaneous or make-believe play Strong, persistent interest on specific topic, part of a toy, or item
Effective treatments:ABA therapy: Applied Behavior Analysis addresses the following areas: communication, play and leisure skills, social skills, activities of daily living, safety skills, reducing and replacing problem, behavior, potty training, parent training.
Physical therapy: acquisition and/or improvement of motor skills, such as sitting, standing, walking, jumping, running, and lifting.
Occupational therapy: integrating the use of cognitive processing, sensory processing, and/or motor skills in the performance of basic tasks, such as learning to tie shoes, improving handwriting, self-grooming, self-dressing, self-feeding, independent use of the toilet, learning to give oneself appropriate sensory input, and other similar skills.
Speech therapy: acquisition and use of language, the mechanics of speaking, as well as the social rules surrounding the use of verbal language.
Facts:As of 2018, 1 in every 59 people are diagnosed with autism, according to the CDC. The numbers are twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125. This might be due to greater awareness around autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Currently, boys are also approximately 4.5 times more likely to have an autism diagnosis than girls of the same age. However, recent research suggests that girls may not show autism in the same way as boys and might go undiagnosed because of that.Reports have consistently noted that more white children are identified with ASD than black or Hispanic children. Previous studies have shown that stigma, lack of access to healthcare services due to non-citizenship or low-income, and non-English primary language are potential barriers to the identification of children with ASD, especially among Hispanic children. A difference in identifying black and Hispanic children with ASD relative to white children means these children may not be getting the services they need to reach their full potential.