Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Autistic On The Spectrum

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What Is Meant By The Autism Spectrum

Autism Spectrum Disorder: 10 things you should know

When actress Jenny McCarthy discovered her son Evan had autism, as she tells it, she immediately envisioned scenes from Rain Man . In it, Dustin Hoffman portrayed an emotionally detached man having meltdowns over innocuous things like pancakes and missing an episode of Peoples Court.

In a 2008 interview McCarthy described the day her doctor gave her the news: I just stared at the doctor while remembering all the signs that led up to this moment. I felt each membrane and vein in my heart shattering into a million pieces. Nothing prepared me for this. I couldnt breathe. I wanted it gone. . . I looked at the doctor with pleading, tearful eyes. This cant be.

But as fate would have it, her deepest concerns were not at all what came to pass: McCarthy followed up by saying, He is very loving and sweet and not anything like Rain Man.

No, Evan wasnt like Rain Man, not exactly. Thats the uniqueness of autism spectrum disorder : no two people are affected in the exact same way. As the saying goes, If youve seen one child with autism, youve seen one child with autism.

Why is it so unpredictable and the effects so wide-ranging? Thats not completely understood. What is known is that ASD, while having some common and identifiable characteristics, will express itself differently in each person. The degree of severity will vary and the behaviors associated with the disorder will differ, often dramatically.

This is the gist of what is meant by the spectrum.

How Does Autism Affect Kids

Autistic children may not reach the same developmental milestones as their peers, or they may demonstrate the loss of previously developed social or language skills.

For instance, a 2-year-old without autism may show interest in simple games of make-believe. A 4-year-old without autism may enjoy engaging in activities with other children. An autistic child may have trouble interacting with others or dislike it altogether.

Autistic children may also engage in repetitive behaviors, have difficulty sleeping, or compulsively eat nonfood items. They may find it hard to thrive without a structured environment or consistent routine.

If your child is autistic, you may have to work closely with their teachers to ensure they succeed in the classroom.

Many resources are available to help autistic children as well as their loved ones. Local support groups can be found through the national nonprofit the Autism Society of America.

How Could The Study’s Findings Be Used

A question that has been raised by many people with concerns about Spectrum 10k iswhat if the study does discover genetic and environmental factors that cause autism?

“What if genetic approaches reveal that certain types or events of the environmenteither during pregnancy or childhoodare strongly contributory to activating certain genes to evoke the autistic spectrum? says Giordano.

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What Is The Autism Spectrum In Terms Of Neurodiversity

To understand the concept of the autism spectrum, it might help to think of it metaphorically. Consider the characteristics of autism as colors of the rainbow. If you have ever played with a prism, you know that the light spectrum isnt limited to just red, yellow, and blue. Its a wide array of colors in varying intensity.

Most computers can only display 256 different colors. Standard office printers can print several thousand. The human eye can see far more up to 2.3 million different colors. But, even that doesnt represent the full spectrum. Since distinct light waves can combine in any number of ways, the amount of unique possible colors is nearly infinite.

Lets take this metaphor a bit further. If the autism spectrum disorder is like a rainbow, then autism spectrum disorder symptoms are like primary colors. For the sake of this exercise, lets say that social struggles is blue. Sensory processing differences can be red. And lets represent repetitive behaviors with the color yellow.

Two friends who lack social awareness might both be autistic. The one who also really struggles with sensory over-stimulation could be said to have an orange symptom cluster. The other, who also engages in repetitive behaviors, has more of a green symptom cluster.

What Disorders Are Related To Asd

realtattoosdesigns: Musicians On The Autism Spectrum

Certain known genetic disorders are associated with an increased risk for autism, including Fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis each of which results from a mutation in a single, but different, gene. Recently, researchers have discovered other genetic mutations in children diagnosed with autism, including some that have not yet been designated as named syndromes. While each of these disorders is rare, in aggregate, they may account for 20 percent or more of all autism cases.

People with ASD also have a higher than average risk of having epilepsy. Children whose language skills regress early in life before age 3 appear to have a risk of developing epilepsy or seizure-like brain activity. About 20 to 30 percent of children with ASD develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood. Additionally, people with both ASD and intellectual disability have the greatest risk of developing seizure disorder.

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Related Signs And Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

While not part of autisms official diagnostic criteria, children with autism spectrum disorders often suffer from one or more of the following problems:

Sensory problems Many children with autism spectrum disorders either underreact or overreact to sensory stimuli. At times they may ignore people speaking to them, even to the point of appearing deaf. However, at other times they may be disturbed by even the softest sounds. Sudden noises such as a ringing telephone can be upsetting, and they may respond by covering their ears and making repetitive noises to drown out the offending sound. Children on the autism spectrum also tend to be highly sensitive to touch and to texture. They may cringe at a pat on the back or the feel of certain fabric against their skin.

Emotional difficulties Children with autism spectrum disorders may have difficulty regulating their emotions or expressing them appropriately. For instance, your child may start to yell, cry, or laugh hysterically for no apparent reason. When stressed, they may exhibit disruptive or even aggressive behavior . The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities also notes that kids with ASD may be unfazed by real dangers like moving vehicles or heights, yet be terrified of harmless objects such as a stuffed animal.

Savant skills in autism spectrum disorder

Being Mildly Or Severely Autistic

People sometimes ask how to detect mild vs. severe autism signs. What does high- functioning autism look like? they often ask. People who dont understand ASD assume that the more normal someone appears, the less severe their autism is and the lower they must be on the spectrum. In reality, you are either autistic or youre not. You then have a multitude of ways your individual strengths and areas of support interact with one another. And, from there, you may need different levels and types of support to accomplish your goals.

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Autism And Your Environment

Sometimes, when a situation is too much to cope with due to sensory input , or being asked to do things that cause stress or distress, an autistic person can become overwhelmed.

Meltdowns and shutdowns

When an autistic person becomes overwhelmed and isnt able to use or benefit from their coping strategies, they might have meltdowns or shutdowns.

Its important, for parents of autistic children in particular, to be aware that a meltdown isnt a tantrum. A tantrum is something that a child can control, and tantrums often happen because a child wants something. A meltdown or shutdown isnt something an autistic person can control, and its caused by being overwhelmed.

During a meltdown, an autistic person might try to make themselves feel less overwhelmed. This can include doing things like:

  • trying to get away from people for example by running away or hiding
  • trying to get people away from them for example by shouting, screaming, hitting, or acting aggressively

During a shutdown, an autistic person might try to block everything out for example by not responding to anything or anyone around them.

Challenging behaviour

Like everyone else, autistic people can display challenging behaviour if theyre in the wrong environment. While it can be challenging for the people around them, this behaviour is often a result of distress or frustration, particularly if an autistic person has difficulty with communicating.

What Are The Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Signs of ASD range from mild to severely disabling, and every person is different. The following signs are considered to be red flags that indicate your young child may be at risk for autism. If your child shows any of the following signs, please get in touch with your childs healthcare provider to discuss a referral for an autism evaluation.

The signs include the following:

  • Your child doesnt respond to their name being called at all or responds inconsistently.
  • Your child doesnt smile widely or make warm, joyful expressions by the age of 6 months.
  • Your child doesnt engage in smiling, making sounds and making faces with you or other people by the age of 9 months.
  • Your child doesnt babble by 12 months.
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as showing, pointing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
  • No words by 16 months.
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases by 24 months.
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.

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Limitations Of Asd Levels

Although the ASD levels are useful for diagnosing autism severity and support needs, the categories don’t give a full picture of the strengths and limitations of each level.

The three levels are not entirely inclusive of the symptoms and needs of all people with autism. The DSM-5 offers little specificity regarding the types of support that individuals need or situations when support is needed.

For example, some people with ASD need support at school but are fine at home, while others may do well at school but struggle in social situations.

What’s more, the level a person is assigned when they’re first diagnosed can shift as they develop and refine their social skills, and as anxiety, depression, or other issues common among people with autism change or grow more severe.

Assigning people to one of the three levels of autism can be useful for understanding what types of services and supports would serve them best.

It won’t, however, predict or account for unique details in their personality and behavior, which means the support and services they receive will need to be highly individualized.

What Is The Autism Spectrum

You might have heard people referring to autism as a spectrum. This just means that there are a number of ways that autism can be experienced.

While people on the autism spectrum share a bunch of similar traits, there are an equal number of differences between them, so the experience of living with autism varies greatly from person to person.

Dr Stephen Shore an autistic professor of special education at Adelphi University, New York, put it best when he said:

If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.

The spectrum can range vastly from people who experience significant difficulties with cognitive function and have no or limited speech, to those who have developed a range of functional skills to support their everyday life.

Some of the key strengths identified in people on the autism spectrum are:

  • being detail oriented
  • maintaining a focus on a task and
  • seeing things from a different perspective.

My differences turned out also to include gifts that set me apart.

John Robison, New York Times Bestselling Author

If youre on the autism spectrum youll generally enjoy routine and predictability, and might also find yourself focussing on a specific area of interest, or following a particular passion. This can mean that people on the spectrum are highly successful in their chosen careers.

There are of course challenges that people on the autism spectrum face, these can include:

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You Don’t Seem To Understand Feelings

A person on the autism spectrum can understand what emotions are in theory but have a hard time putting that knowledge to work in real time. This can lead to awkward or upsetting interactions.

Dr. Marsh says, “You have successfully learned to imitate and engage in ‘small talk’ through observation, but you find yourself unable to converse about anything personal, emotional, or in-depth.”

Why Is Autism Awareness Important

What is it like to be only very barely inside of the autism spectrum ...

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. April has also become known as Autism Awareness Month in the United States. However, many community advocates have rightly called for the need to increase awareness about ASD year-round, not just during 30 select days.

The Autism Society of America and other advocates have even proposed that April be designated Autism Acceptance Month instead.

Autism acceptance requires empathy and an understanding that ASD is different for everyone.

Certain therapies and approaches can work for some people but not others. Parents and caregivers can also have differing opinions on the best way to advocate for an autistic child.

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Signs In Developmental Period

  • In order to be diagnosed with autism, symptoms must have been present in the early developmental period of a persons life. It can be difficult to pick up on signs and characteristics of autism for many parents, as raising a child in something that is very new to most people. For parents that already have a child diagnosed with autism, they may be more aware of the signs of autism so they pick up on these earlier. Or for other parents that have an older child that is typically developing, they also may pick up on the signs of autism earlier as they have a child to compare development with. See our signs and checklist for children with autism page for more information.
  • For many adults, they many only become aware of the signs or characteristics of autism in relation to their own behaviours later in life. When they then think back over their life they may start to identify how autism may have impacted their life at different moments such as realising that others seemed to know what others were thinking when they found it difficult to read peoples emotions. Many adults with autism have learnt strategies to support their challenges throughout their lifetime. It is therefore important to think about what signs or characteristics were present at a young age when seeking a diagnosis as an adult. See our signs and checklist for adults with autism page for more information.

Social Behavior And Social Understanding

Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorders. Symptoms may include:

  • Unusual or inappropriate body language, gestures, and facial expressions .
  • Lack of interest in other people or in sharing interests or achievements .
  • Unlikely to approach others or to pursue social interaction comes across as aloof and detached prefers to be alone.
  • Difficulty understanding other peoples feelings, reactions, and nonverbal cues.
  • Resistance to being touched.
  • Difficulty or failure to make friends with children the same age.

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How Is Asd Managed

Various treatment options will be explained to you if your child is diagnosed with ASD. A number of organisations offer education programs and support services, such as Autism Spectrum Australia. These services can support children with ASD, and their parents or caregivers.

Its best to start treatments early after diagnosis. The right support and programs will improve specific symptoms and social skills.

ASD is a dynamic disorder. Each person with ASD has a unique experience. which is influenced by many different factors. That is why autism is thought of as a spectrum. Treatment programs specifically tailored to individual needs often have the best results.

  • Intensive educational programs and therapies can teach language and social skills.
  • Speech pathology focuses on developing communication and social skills.
  • Occupational therapy can support participation and independence as well as sensory motor development. For example, play skills, fine motor skills and learning how to cope in different environments.

Ensure that the therapies, treatments and supports you choose are informed by evidence. Avoid treatments that offer a cure or recovery. There is no evidence to support these claims.

People with ASD may also have a mental illness. Your doctor can help you to get treatment under the mental health care treatment plan. This provides you with 20 appointments with a mental health professional each year.

You can also attend an ASD support group.

Signs And Characteristics Checklist

Understanding the Autism Spectrum

If youre reading this page, you may be thinking that you, your partner, or someone you know or love is showing some of the signs or characteristics of autism.

These signs cover a range of human behaviour from social communication and social interaction, to restricted, repetitive and sensory processing.

Note that the information below is just a list of some of the common signs and characteristics of autism.

It is unlikely that an adult will display all of these characteristics, and its important to remember, only a qualified professional can carry out an assessment for autism.

Some of the characteristics that adults with an autism diagnosis commonly report, include:

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What Is The Prevalence Of Autism

The exact prevalence of autism in Australia and internationally is unknown.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that there were 205,200 Australians with autism in 2018, which is around 1% of the population or 1 in 100.

Internationally this rate varies significantly, from 1 person in every 59 people in the USA, to the average prevalence across Asia, Europe, and North America is between one and two percent.

Statistics also show that:

  • the number of Australians diagnosed with autism increased by 42% between 2012 and 2015
  • three out of four people diagnosed with autism are young people, aged between 5 and 24 years and
  • 1-2 out of 4 Australians diagnosed with autism are female.

While the reported prevalence of autism varies around the world, there has been a clear increase in the number of people diagnosed on the autism spectrum in recent years, but this doesnt necessarily suggest that there are more autistic people in the world than there were ten or twenty years ago.

Evidence suggests that the increase is the result of a number of cultural and clinical factors, including social influences driving greater awareness of autism, and improved diagnostic procedures and changes in diagnostic criteria allowing more people to access a diagnosis.

According to Professor Whitehouse, from Australias Autism CRC, research shows the majority of the increase in autism prevalence over this period was due to an increase in diagnosing children with less severe behaviours.

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