Autism Awareness

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder with a broad array of symptoms or manifestations. Some of the key signs of Autism are:

  • Social or emotional issues
  • Communication issues
  • Sensory processing issues

It is unknown what exactly the cause of Autism is, but research suggests that it is both a combination of genetic as well environmental factors.

There are two main symptom categories for Autism:

Social or Emotional symptoms, as characterized by any of the following:

  • Awkward interactions
  • Limited eye contact
  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • Difficulty combining body language and gestures with speech
  • Difficulties in developing and maintaining friendships

Restrictive or Repetitive symptoms, as characterized by any of the following:

  • The need for sameness
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
  • Difficulty with transitions
  • Obsessive interest
  • Sensory sensitivities

There are 3 Levels of Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Level 1: High Functioning, as characterized by difficulty with social interactions and inflexible routines or behaviors

Level 2: Moderate Functioning, as characterized by limited initiation of social interactions and speech and extreme difficulty with change. Moderate functioning children’s repetitive behaviors can become obvious to a casual observer.

Level 3: Low Functioning, as characterized by minimal responses and an inability to live independently

 So what can you do?

There are a few ways in which ASD can be diagnosed and managed. The first step is Psychological Assessment as done by the Psychological Test ADOS-2 (Call Genesis Assessment Services at 757-827-7707). Early detection is key for best prognosis!

Treatment can include any of the following:

  • ABA Therapy
  • Recreational Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Special Accommodations at School
  • Social Skills Training Groups

It is important to understand that there is always a reason for behavior, and that all behavior is a form of communication, especially in children. Take note to what the precursors to behaviors are, and whether they are situational or emotional. Keep in mind, there are many positive ways in which parents and caregivers can comfort and respond to these behaviors:

  • Communicate calmly
  • Change the setting with the child’s acknowledgement
  • Listen to the child’s needs
  • Offer them choices
  • Praise their positive behaviors
  • Be consistent
  • Avoid surprises–Keep a normal routine

Although ASD may sometimes be difficult to cope with, through structured environments and treatment, children and adults continue to have increasing potential with ASD. Research continues to develop new ways in which to further increase quality of life and social fluency for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Article By: Trina Young Greer, Psy.D., LCP, LPC, LMFT