Accepting Autism As An Identity
Questioning whether an autistic person will grow out of their disorder is potentially harmful and fails to acknowledge autism as part of their identity.
Autistic folks shouldnt have to feel like they need to change, and placing the expectation on them could suppress a fundamental aspect of their personality.
As a result, some autistic folks may mask their identity to please others. And in doing so, they may appear on the outside to have changed or grown out of their disorder.
This takes a great toll on them and sometimes brings them to the point where they cant function, Gould says. We need to be careful not to reinforce masking and instead learn to respect autistic people for who they are.
Accepting autism as part of a persons identity means supporting their unique strengths rather than aiming to change their behavior.
The identification of autism can be misunderstood where people think of it as a deficit-based or that there is something to fix, Tetreault says. There is a unique individual and the individual is beyond the label.
She adds that encouraging autistic children to lean into their natural passions and interests can benefit them in the long run. And using language like neurodivergent helps an autistic person feel understood rather than ostracized.
What Are The Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
ASD affects every child differently. Its not possible to simply say that one child is on the low end of the autism spectrum and another at the high end. Instead, each child will have different skills and different struggles.
Although the symptoms of autism vary in severity, the core behaviors that describe ASD are:
- difficulty with social communication and social interaction including: verbal and nonverbal communication, trouble developing and maintaining relationships, and deficits in initiating and responding to social cues
- unusual, restricted, or repetitive behaviors , intense interests, and/or unusual sensory behaviors
The core symptoms of ASD may show up in different ways. Some children with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate through other means. Others speak easily but arent good at using language to communicate with others. Some have unusual-looking behaviors others do not. Some have severe cognitive impairments others are very intelligent. Some children are easygoing, while others can get easily frustrated and may behave aggressively or injure themselves.
For some children, especially those whose ASD symptoms are less pronounced, symptoms may not be fully appreciated until the middle school years, late adolescence, or young adulthood when social demands increase.
Theories Of Causes Lead To Interventions
Over the years there have been many theories about the causes of autism. In the 1950s and 60s, it was believed that autism was caused by cold parenting. This led to the promotion of Holding Therapy, an approach where the mother holds their child for a prolonged time and forces eye-contact in order to remediate a presumed attachment disorder. Whilst children on the receiving end have reported terrible suffering as a result, the professionals involved overlooked the fact that the parents also had children who did not have autism.
Although this theory and intervention have long been debunked, Research Autism currently lists 123 different interventions for autism and nearly all of them are the result of a theory about a possible cause.
Over the years many theories have come and gone. One notable exception is EIBI . This approach applies ABA techniques to help children with autism. This treatment has the highest evidence base and is one of the few that was not developed from a theory of a cause. Find out more about ABA and autism.
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Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist
Although it is not, in and of itself, a cure for autism, applied behavior analysis is at least a valuable step along the path to a cure for at least some ASD patients. For the rest, ABA can at least lead to improvements in quality of life and individual skills while the search for a real cure continues.
Does Everyone In The Autism Community Support Aba
Beliefs about ABA can be controversial in the autism community. Adults with autism may believe the therapyâs emphasis on suppressing behaviors to âfit inâ prevents them from understanding their true selves and being accepted as neurodiverse. Therapists and parents may have witnessed substantial improvements and believe in ABAâs power to improve a childâs life. The severity of someoneâs condition is one of the components that informs their perspective.
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Can Autism Be Treated In Adulthood
Receiving an autism diagnosis in adulthood is validating and empowering for some individuals. Therapies including applied behavior analysis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and social skills training can still be helpful for adolescents and adults seeking treatment. However, itâs worth noting that treatment studies are primarily conducted on children.
Creating A Positive Environment
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Behavioral Therapies For Autism Spectrum Disorder
If your child has just been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder , you may feel youve entered a maze, trying to find the best therapies to help your child communicate, have meaningful interactions with others, and develop the skills he needs to reach his full potential.
A variety of intensive behavioral therapies can help children with ASD build language, social, and play skills. Most are provided through programs run by your state and local school system. They include early intervention services for children under age 3 and special education services for children age 3 and older.
We can recommend specific therapies and educational strategies that address your childs needs while playing to her strengths. For instance, some children are strong visual learners: they may not understand if you explain something verbally, but can instantly grasp a new idea from a picture. Some children may not speak or make good eye contact, but can understand spoken requests and explanations.
In any case, experts agree that therapy should start as early as possible, should be intensive and highly structured, should be done one-on-one or in very small groups, and should actively include families. Often, children receive a combination of different therapies. The effectiveness of any therapy plan should be evaluated frequently, so that changes can be made if needed.
Caring For A Child With Autism When You Are Autistic
Research indicates that there is a genetic component to autism. However, many parents only discover theyre autistic when they research and obtain a formal diagnosis for their own child. If youre autistic, you might face unique challenges when it comes to raising children who are also neurodivergent. Here are a few tips that may help:
Dont hide your identity. Let your child get to know the real you. If you have certain quirks, such as repetitive behaviors or unusual body movements, dont feel pressured to mask them in front of your child. By being yourself, youre encouraging your autistic child to be themselves around you and creating an opportunity to bond over your similarities. You can also talk with your child about how neurotypical individuals may react to your behaviors and how to handle negative reactions. Aim to offer the type of guidance you couldve used when you were young.
Remember to care for yourself. Caring for a child can be challenging if you struggle with sensory needs or require a highly structured lifestyle. For example, if youre sensitive to sounds, a crying child may be a constant source of stress and discomfort. A childs sudden tantrums can make it hard for you to stick to a consistent schedule, creating further frustration. To protect your own sense of well-being, its important for you to adopt coping habits that help reduce your stress in these types of situations.
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Additional Therapies For Asd
Your childs treatment program may also involve a number of other components:
- Speech-language therapy can help your child understand language and use it to express himself. At Boston Childrens, extensive services are offered through our Center for Communication Enhancement.
- Total communication interventions through our Autism Language Program can help your child use any possible means of communication including speech, symbol systems, gestures, sign language, and innovative technologies.
- Occupational and physical therapy may develop your childs fine and gross motor skills , and dealing with sensory inputs from her environment.
Knowing How To Look For Fraudulent Studies
âMany studies exist regarding the treatment of autism. Not all of them should be believed.
Some could even risk the health of those with ASD. Knowing if one can be trusted requires reading through them. Here’s more on what can be done:
- Go over the data thoroughly. How rational does the contact appear? How do supporters of the study say that it works?
- Check verification of all claims. Many reputable researchers in the field of autism have their work scrutinized in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal. Be sure that the journal is also accepted among professional circles dealing with autism research.
- Weight the advantages and risks of what’s advised and whether or not it will help your child.
- Go over the research with your child’s pediatrician and doctor, being sure to ask them if the therapy, medication, or study being done is useful.
- Use all of the above information whenever you’re on social media, as there is always a constant stream of cures for autism coming from treatments that are saturated in pseudoscience.
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Looking At The Intestines
âSymptoms in autistic individuals are easily found based on behavior changes.
Many people talk and behave in different ways from one another.
But those on the spectrum have intestinal issues that spring forth with their mood shits and tantrums.
Things like an upset stomach and persistent diarrhea have been observed in many autistic patients.
As a consequence, researchers are honed in on potential gastrointestinal alterations as a way to find out how it pertains to the disorder’s growth.
In one recent observation, transplants on patients’ waste were done.
There were samples taken by healthy individuals for research.
They were prepped in a lab setting for safekeeping. The samples were then added to the intestines of autistic patients.
Again, this is done for the transfer of bacteria.
Such operations are being studied to see how this can change the way that the brain operates.
There are over 100 million nerve cells in the gut alone.
As such, more studies will be done to bridge the connection between the nervous system and impairments in the brain.
After the transplants were done, an almost 50% decrease was reported in symptoms commonplace with autism. More information about the study is shown below:
Furthermore, some researchers have begun using lab mice to conduct their studies on autism, taking human bacteria and administering them into the mice’s lower digestive tract. These are quite controversial and aren’t the norm.
The control group received no treatment at all.
How To Report Fake Treatments
You can help stop people selling dangerous treatments by reporting anything you think might be fake.
For a product bought in England, Scotland or Wales, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
For a medicine you think might be fake, visit www.fakemeds.campaign.gov.uk.
For an advert for a fake treatment in the media, on a website or on social media, contact the Advertising Standards Authority.
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What Are The Current Treatments For Asd
Healthcare providers who treat ASD agree that starting supportive therapy as soon as possible is important.
According to Dr. Ashanti W. Woods, MD, a pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center, early intervention is proven to be associated with the best outcomes.
Younger children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder will typically have their needs assessed and met using their states early intervention services, which many states refer to as an Individualized Family Service Plan , explained Woods.
The goal, he said, is to help toddlers communicate better, minimize anxiety in social settings, and lessen challenging behaviors. These services are usually offered up to the age of three years old.
When autism spectrum disorder ranges from mild to severe, Woods said most, if not all, treatment strategies will address and involve some sort of speech therapy, behavior therapy, and occupational therapy.
As children get older and enter school, Woods indicated many of them can benefit from specialized Individualized Education Plans , with the same goals of improving communication, behavior, socializing, and self-care.
Additionally, Woods explained that adolescent psychiatrists may also consider medicines to address conditions that are frequently seen in ASD including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , oppositional defiance disorder , obsessive-compulsive disorder , or depression.
The Picture Exchange Communication System
The Picture Exchange Communication System can be an invaluable resource. Dr. Andy S. Bondy and Lori Frost developed PECS in 1985 for preverbal or nonverbal children. It is ideal for children who express strong preferences and a desire to communicate. PECS is usually used with individuals who are nonverbal. The Indiana Resource Center for Autism is a leading research center. It says PECS is also helpful for people with limited speech. Children who are echolalic or have unintelligible speech are good PECS candidates. It is also appropriate for children who have a small set of meaningful words . It is also an option for children with mobility impairments.
PECS is a collection of picture cards that a child can use to communicate. The cards combine to form sentences, make requests, or have conversations. PECS compliments the visual learning style of most children with autism. Children learn PECS in six phases. First, they receive two or three simple cards. As the child masters PECS, he/she receives more cards with greater visual complexity. The cards should represent different needs, wants, locations, food, play, or emotions. Place them where your child can access them. You can read more about the Benefits of Visual Supports for Children with Autism here.
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Key Take-Aways The nuts and bolts of the Floortime session . . Affect Autism.
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Tip : Find Help And Support
Caring for a child with autism can demand a lot of energy and time. There may be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or discouraged. Parenting isnt ever easy, and raising a child with special needs is even more challenging. In order to be the best parent you can be, its essential that you take care of yourself.
Dont try to do everything on your own. You dont have to! There are many places that families of children with ASD can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support:
ADS support groups Joining an ASD support group is a great way to meet other families dealing with the same challenges you are. Parents can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just being around others in the same boat and sharing their experience can go a long way toward reducing the isolation many parents feel after receiving a childs diagnosis.
Respite care Every parent needs a break now and again. And for parents coping with the added stress of ASD, this is especially true. In respite care, another caregiver takes over temporarily, giving you a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks.
Affordable Online Therapy for Help and Support
Get professional help from BetterHelps network of licensed therapists.
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Should Autism Be Cured
What Ive figured out over the years is that there are two types of autism families:
Neither of these groups is necessarily wrong, and they both have good reasons for what they believe.
Those who want to find a cure dont want to find one because they are ashamed of or want to change their child, they want to find a cure to help their child so that they do not have to go through the struggles that come with autism especially the more moderate to severe forms.
Those who dont want to find a cure have accepted autism. They know that their child is their child no matter what and they love them despite their differences.
Whether autism should be cured or not is not a question anyone can answer but YOU. Some families struggle beyond what anyone else can even understand.
Some children will grow up to be adults who can decide for themselves if they want their autism to be cured or not. The answer to the question lies with each individual or family.
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