Autism Spectrum Disorder

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disability and describes a set of developmental delays and disorders that affect social and communication skills.

ASD characteristics appear before the age of 3 and last throughout a person's life. Early identification and evidence-based intervention can create a significant change in the person's developmental trajectory.


Why is autism on a spectrum?


The term "spectrum" refers to the variation in the type and severity of symptoms. It can include a wide range of symptoms such as social impairment, communication issues, repetitive behaviors, etc that are usually on a spectrum of mild to severe.


Early Identification and Screening


Skills such as taking the first step, smiling for the first time, and waving ‘bye-bye’ are called 'developmental milestones'. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children must be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern regarding delays in the milestones.


Why act early?


Early Intervention is the term used to describe services and support that help babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities and their families. Acting early can make a real difference! If you’re concerned about your child’s development, don’t wait. Acting early on developmental concerns and getting early intervention can make a significant impact on long term child outcomes.


Which specialists can I refer to?


Doctors your child might be referred to for a more in-depth evaluation include:

• Pediatricians/Developmental pediatricians

• Child neurologists

• Child psychologists


What are evidence-based intervention approaches?


Identifying effective medical and behavioral interventions for neurodevelopmental disorders should be based on a solid foundation of scientific evidence.

For a practice to be judged as scientific, it must meet particular standards, reliably yield positive results, and survive a rigorous peer review process and must be compared against a “gold standard”.


What are the types of evidence-based intervention for ASD?

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

  • Structured Teaching

  • Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)

  • Pivotal Response Training (PRT)

  • Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI)

  • Floor time

  • TEACCH

What other therapies can help?


Children with autism can greatly benefit from the following services as needed by each child's unique developmental needs:

  • Speech Therapy

  • Occupational Therapy

  • Social Skills Training

  • Assistive Technology


What can you do?


Treat everyone with autism respectfully and celebrate their individuality, strengths and differences. Let's make the world a more equitable place for those with autism by learning to understand and respect those who may perceive and experience the world differently from us. This should translate into equal rights to education, employment and overall an inclusive society.

 


Explaining autism to children



Giving children accurate information is necessary to clear misconceptions and help them treat others with kindness and respect. This is a simplified summary that can be used with children.


Children who are born with autism have their own strengths along with challenges. Autism affects how the brain works and can make it difficult for some children with autism to talk, understand others, make friends, or calm themselves down when they feel worried. Children with autism can learn, go to school, and make friends—they just may need extra support from their teachers.





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