Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder which presents the individual with challenges starting from the early years of life. As the name suggests it is a spectrum disorder; the severity of symptoms presents itself differently for each individual. For example, one individual with ASD may not have have any expressive language and self help skills such as toileting while another may communicate fluently and demonstrate independence in routines but meet challenges in taking perspective and interacting with others. 

According to the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5 (DSM-5), a reference manual for diagnosing mental and behavioral disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association, autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified all fall within the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  

Signs & Symptoms

Individuals with ASD have challenges in social communication, social interaction and demonstrate restrictive interests and repetitive behaviors. 

Here are some examples of behaviors you may see in individuals with ASD: 

Social communication and interaction:

They rarely look at you. They don't respond to you when you call their names or when they are asked to come over. When they do come over, they may stand too close to you! Often I see individuals interested in talking to others but only about their own interests. They face challenges in using and understanding gestures to communicate and sustaining conversation and have troubles putting themselves in others' shoes.

Restrictive interests and repetitive behaviors: 

They repeatedly spin toys or gears. They repeat the same sound, word or phrase over and over again. They flap their arms, make signs with fingers in the airs or rock back and forth repeatedly. It is upsetting to the individual when there are changes in routines like walking on a different route to school or eating past the usual time. Some individuals cry at the sound of toys while others are unaware of a loud noise from an event that happened right next to them!

Treatment

Although there is no cure for ASD, with early intervention treatment your child benefit and learn skills that are helpful to his or her development. That said, you may be in distress as to where to start given that there is so much information available; yet among this information there is a lot of misinformation and not all information is based on sound evidence. To begin with, discuss with a medical professional or read about evidence based services available for your child from the following organizations: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html

Autism Speaks: 

https://www.autismspeaks.org/treatments-autism 

National Institute of Mental Health: 

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/#part_145441

Leave a comment