How Is Autism Treated
There is no cure for ASD. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can substantially improve those symptoms. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of the individual. Most health care professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better.
Educational/behavioral interventions: Early behavioral/educational interventions have been very successful in many children with ASD. In these interventions therapists use highly structured and intensive skill-oriented training sessions to help children develop social and language skills, such as applied behavioral analysis, which encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative ones. In addition, family counseling for the parents and siblings of children with ASD often helps families cope with the particular challenges of living with a child with ASD.
Help For Parents Of Children With Autism
If you have a child with autism, it is important to get support. The day-to-day care of children with autism can be stressful. Making sure your child get the help they need can also pose a challenge, depending on whether quality support services are available in your area. At the same time, you are likely to have ongoing worries about your child’s prognosis and long-term well being. For all these reasons, you need to take care of yourself, as well as your child. Make an effort to reach out and find the support you need.
Best Schools For Children With Autism
Education can play a huge role in the life of any child, but it may be even more important for a child on the autism spectrum. Before choosing your child’s educational path, it’s important to consider the criteria that make a school the perfect fit for a child with autism. Armed with research and common sense, you’ll make the right decision for your child.
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How Some Of My Clients Have Described Lockdown
Sarah told me, I feel so guilty because so many people have suffered, but I loved being shut away from people and activities I hated. Just having that pressure off to be around anyone but my husband and dogs felt amazing.
Christine described the relief she felt when mask-wearing was introduced. Im sure it sounds completely daft, but I absolutely love wearing a mask! Combining the mask-wearing with crossing the street to avoid everyone was a joy. And there was no pressure to make eye contact. Ive never felt more comfortable, socially, out and about.
Betsy told me, Initially, I hated Zoom. Ive always struggled with the phone, but when I got used to Zoom, I found it really suited me. I could see peoples faces but I didnt have to cope with all the sensory overload which I experience when Im in a different place. I could zone in. I try and see if all my meetings can be done by Zoom these days.
Jackie said, I used to have to go to the office every day. Take the train, get into the city, all of that. By the time I reached work and had to communicate with all my colleagues, I was burnt out. I have felt so much better working from home and Im far more productive.
Do Symptoms Of Autism Change Over Time
For many children, symptoms improve with age and behavioral treatment. During adolescence, some children with ASD may become depressed or experience behavioral problems, and their treatment may need some modification as they transition to adulthood. People with ASD usually continue to need services and supports as they get older, but depending on severity of the disorder, people with ASD may be able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment.
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Special Ed Classes Are Not One Thing
In many school districts, special education programs are not one thing. In other words, there is not one type of special ed class into which students with all types of unique needs are placed. Rather, some districts have developed what fairly can be called specialized special ed programs. As an aside, the ability of a district to develop a multifaceted special ed program does significantly depend on financial resources. Some school districts in the U.S. are better able to implement a multifaceted special ed program rather than take something of a proverbial one size fits all approach.
What Are You Doing
In 2012, we created a valuable resource to help students better understand their peers on the autism spectrum.
The aim of the film was to educate school children about ASD so that they could accept their peers on the spectrum, understand why they behave in the ways they do and become moreaccepting and inclusive.
Our film What are you doing?, along with accompanying teaching materials, was distributed to every school in Australia, totalling over 10,000 copies nationwide.
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Application Of The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act
The starting point to determine where a particular student with autism will be placed in school begins with the application of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. IDEA mandates that a student, including one on the autism spectrum, is to be placed in what legally is known as the least restrictive environment. In other words, a student on the autism spectrum is to be mainstreamed in school whenever possible. A student on the autism spectrum should be placed in a general classroom.
Get Extra Support If Your Child Needs It
If your child needs extra support their school does not usually provide, they’ll need an education, health and care plan .
This is a document from your local council. It says what education and health needs your child has and what support they should get.
This can either help:
- the school apply for extra money so they can support your child
- you apply for a place at a school that’s better for your child
Your child does not need to have been diagnosed with autism to get extra support.
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Getting A Place At A Special School
To get a place at a special school, your child will usually need an EHC plan.
As part of an EHC plan, you have the right to tell your council what school you’d like your child to go to.
The council can only refuse this if they think there’s a clear reason why the school is unsuitable.
The charity IPSEA has more about choosing a school with an EHC plan.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning.
The term spectrum refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur in people with ASD. Some children and adults with ASD are fully able to perform all activities of daily living while others require substantial support to perform basic activities. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified as part of ASD rather than as separate disorders. A diagnosis of ASD includes an assessment of intellectual disability and language impairment.
ASD occurs in every racial and ethnic group, and across all socioeconomic levels. However, boys are significantly more likely to develop ASD than girls. The latest analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children has ASD.
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What I Have Learnt Along The Way
The label on the school means nothing. What matters, is the team and the peers in the class. I heard the words mild, moderate, severe and profound special needs when referring to a schools designated ability to deal with special needs, but had no idea where my daughter would fit in, and still dont.
Start early. Do your own research – visit the schools and meet the teams, see the children, decide if the peer group is right. Go and see schools that specialise in various disabilities
Go to the school community events and meet the parents. We found that our borough published a list of all schools that they sent kids to – private, independent and state schools were on that list. It was an eye-opener and helped broaden our consideration set.
Get help. There are several charities that help connect you to experts to help you navigate the system. Learn what youre entitled to because you will need to insist on getting it.
Get organised. The paperwork is astounding. We now have everything saved on a shared network, so we can pull down files to attach to forms as we are repeatedly asked to share the same info from therapist/doctors/consultants over and over again.
Your new job is now as an advocate. You are your childs best hope for progress and unfortunately the system will not be helping you. I have had to become a tiger parent – polite but insistent, constantly chasing people for things my daughter needs to survive and to thrive.
Public School Advantages/private School Disadvantages
Cost: Public school is free whereas the costs of private schools are often prohibitive for many families. A regular private school is expensive and a private school that specializes in special education or autism is sure to cost substantially more. However, the IDEA states that students with disabilities are entitled to a free education. Therefore, if the public school system in your area is unequipped to provide a suitable education for an autistic student they are obligated to pay for a school that can. Of course, proving that the public school cannot furnish a proper education is not going to be easy.
IEP: If a child is recognized as autistic, they are entitled to an Individualized Education Program . This provides them with a team of professionals that are concerned with making sure the child receives an education suited for their needs. Having an IEP entitles them to services and accommodations that they would not otherwise receive and increases the likelihood of educational success. It is basically a guarantee that someone is paying attention to their needs.
Realism: Public school is a much more realistic environment than a private school. Autistic children will encounter a cross-section of the population that reflects what they would experience in the real world. Because public schools follow a least restrictive environment policy, autistic children are mainstreamed when possible, helping them prepare for real-world social interactions.
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The Fear About Lifting Lockdowns
Another client, Elizabeth, describes a worsening of her autism symptoms during lockdown. I have become very isolated. I live alone and, although I have one or two friends who I now see, Ive become absolutely cut off from everything else. I used to push myself enough socially to get out there, but now Im terrified about doing what I used to do.
Staff Experience And Understanding
When visiting the school, try to meet with teachers and support staff to discuss your childs needs. Through this you can gauge:
- the depth of the school staffs knowledge of autism together with what resources and strategies they will use to help your child
- what access there will be to other professionals, such as therapists
- how they will meet any health and care needs of your child
- whether staff would be able to support any routines, special interests, anxieties, sensory or dietary needs your child may have.
Its important to ask about communication between staff and how they work with parents. What is their approach to home-school communication and collaboration?
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Home Schooling A Child With Autism
Home schooling is also an option for the autistic child and has the benefit of complete control of the environment, allowing total focus on the education and course of treatment for the autistic child. However, it also is very demanding on both parents, and there is a lack of outside socialization which can make later integration into larger society difficult. If you choose to home school your child, be sure he or she gets outside help from therapists who specialize in autism.
Finding Out About Primary Schools For Autistic Children
You can find out about local schools by talking to your childs preschool teacher, professionals at your childs early childhood intervention service, friends, an advocacy service, or your state or territory education department or Catholic or independent school association.
You can speak to the education department or search online for options outside your local area.
Once youve made a list of schools youre interested in, school open days, tours and private visits will give you a feel for schools. It can help to take a friend or support person with you, so you can both gather information and discuss it afterwards.
Youll get some sense of whether the school might be right for your child from the:
- welcome you and your child get
- principals approach to supporting children with disability and other additional needs
- principals responses to your questions
- schools approach to education, diversity and inclusion
- experiences of other families.
Its a good idea to ask for copies of school policy documents, including emergency procedures, management of medical conditions, bullying, attendance and student engagement. Check whether policies cover the needs of children with additional needs and ensure childrens inclusion in all aspects of school life.
If possible, try to look into some classrooms and be around the playground at lunch or break time. This will give you an idea of how children behave towards each other and how teachers guide childrens behaviour and interactions.
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Level : Requiring Substantial Support
People who meet the level 2 criteria need more support than those with level 1 autism. Social challenges can make holding a conversation very difficult.
Even with support, the person may find it hard to communicate coherently, and they are more likely to respond in ways that neurotypical people consider surprising or inappropriate.
The person may:
- only discuss very specific topics
- have difficulty understanding or using nonverbal communication, including facial expression
For example, they may face away from the person with whom they are communicating.
People with level 2 autism may also find daily functioning difficult due to the challenges of coping with change. Facing change might cause them to experience significant distress.
Autism And The Education System
Education is a key part of every childs life but too many children with autism in England are not getting the education and support they need. Whilst there are specialist schools available, 71% of children with autism attend mainstream schools.
Research has shown that mainstream schools are frequently neither fully educated nor equipped to deal with the needs of an autistic child and give them the necessary support. This is particularly alarming as such a high proportion of children with autism do attend mainstream schools, suggesting a large number of autistic children are not getting the educational experience they deserve.
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Treatment For Children With Autism
Child development experts agree that a child with autism should receive treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible. There is no cure for autism, but early intervention using skills-training and behavior modification can yield excellent results. This type of educational and behavioral treatment tackles autism symptoms — impaired social interaction, communication problems, and repetitive behaviors. It can also boost the chances of a child with child autism being able to go to school and participate in typical activities.
Other treatment options for children with autism include:
- Medication. Doctors sometimes prescribe it for children with autism if they have other symptoms, including depression, anxiety, seizures, or hyperactivity.
- Alternative therapies. These might include vitamin treatments, changes in diet, and a procedure called “chelation” that attempts to remove heavy metals from the blood. Although many parents insist these types of treatment work, researchers have not scientifically proven them effective for children with autism, either for symptoms or long-term outcomes. Chelation, in particular, is dangerous and should be avoided. Deaths have been associated with this type of therapy. You should always discuss the safety and effectiveness of any alternative treatments with your doctor before trying them.
How Is Asd Diagnosed
ASD symptoms can vary greatly from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder. Symptoms may even go unrecognized for young children who have mild ASD or less debilitating handicaps.
Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by clinicians based on symptoms, signs, and testing according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders. Children should be screened for developmental delays during periodic checkups and specifically for autism at 18- and 24-month well-child visits.
Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- excessive lining up of toys or objects
- no smiling or social responsiveness
Later indicators include:
- impaired ability to make friends with peers
- impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
- absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
- repetitive or unusual use of language
- abnormally intense or focused interest
- preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
- inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
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Some Golden Rules And Considerations When It Comes To Choosing A School:
Start early Look into the different options available well ahead of time. Many metropolitan areas have school expos, where prospective families can consider a wide range of schools. Most schools have web sites and offer school tours on a periodic basis.
Waitlist Put you name down on the waitlist of every school you are interested in. You never know which one will become available, and its good to keep you options open.
Do they want you? Enrolling your child at school should not be a fight. Choose a school that wants to include your child and your family. It may not be always be smooth sailing, but the school should want to have your child as part of their community.
Culture Make sure you meet the principal and other key players , take a tour of the school and get a sense of what the school culture and environment is like.
Respect Choose schools who will value and respect your child, their abilities and their differences.
Input Consider schools who are willing to welcome parent / professional input when it comes to the best interests of your child.
Be positive Be proactive and informed, but still positive and polite. People will always be more responsive if they are respected.
Your childs rights know your childs rights and where to turn for help We have listed great resources below around this.