Autism Awareness

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Dr. Trina Young Greer recently gave a presentation on Autism at Smith Memorial Baptist Church, highlighting some of the key symptoms as well as current available treatment methods. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder with a broad array of symptoms or manifestations. Some of the key signs of Autism are:

  • Cognitive or Learning Issues
  • Language Impairment

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.
gene environment interaction
There are two main symptom categories for Autism:

  • Social or Emotional symptoms, as characterized by
    • 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
    • The need for sameness
    • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
    • Difficulty with transitions
    • Obsessive interest
    • Sensory sensitivities

Sensory overload

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. Treatment can include any of the following:

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

ABA therapy

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 permission
  • Listen to their needs
  • Offer them choices
  • Praise their positive behaviors
  • Be consistent
  • And avoid surprises–anything out of the normal routine may make them uncomfortable.

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 Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Article by Dr. Trina Young

Blog Post By: Sarah Warner, M.S.