When The Mild Autism Term Is Used
So, what does a practitioner, teacher, or parent mean when they say a child has mild autism? Since there is no official definition of the term, every person using it has a slightly different idea of what it means.
Sometimes the term is used when an individual is clearly autistic, but also has significant spoken language and other skills. The term may also be used to help explain treatment decisions.
Furthermore, a person with “mild autism” may have advanced communication skills and academic abilities, but have very delayed social skills, severe sensory issues, and/or extreme difficulties with organizational skills . If and when these manifest may also depend on the specific environment or situation.
Variability In Adults With Autism
Not all adults with autism are alike.
- Some adults with autism have successful careers in demanding fields such as information technology, robotics, and video game production.
- Some work part-time while also taking advantage of day programs and resources.
- Some are unable to function in the workplace and spend their days in sheltered settings.
- Some adults on the spectrum are happily married or partnered.
- Others have romantic friendships.
- A significant number are unable to form meaningful, reciprocal relationships with peers.
These vast differences make it just as tough to define or provide services for adults with autism as for children on the spectrum.
Diagnosis In Older Children And Adolescents
ASD symptoms in older children and adolescents who attend school are often first recognized by parents and teachers and then evaluated by the schools special education team. The schools team may perform an initial evaluation and then recommend these children visit their primary health care doctor or doctors who specialize in ASD for additional testing.
Parents may talk with these specialists about their childs social difficulties including problems with subtle communication. These subtle communication issues may include problems understanding tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language. Older children and adolescents may have trouble understanding figures of speech, humor, or sarcasm. Parents may also find that their child has trouble forming friendships with peers.
Level : Requiring Substantial Support
People with ASD level 2 will have more obvious problems with verbal and social communication than those diagnosed with level 1. Likewise, they will find it harder to change focus. They might, for example, get very upset when they have to move from one activity to the next or to leave school at the end of the day.
Children with level 2 tend to have very narrow interests and engage in repetitive behaviors that can make it difficult for them to function in certain situations.
A person diagnosed with ASD level 2 tends to speak in simple sentences and also struggles with nonverbal forms of communication.
Getting The Right Environment
Environment is important to quality of life for autistic people. There are ways you can adapt and improve your environment to make it as comfortable and supportive as possible for you or your child.
The social model of disability is a way of looking at the world that treats the difficulties people with disabilities have as being caused by barriers in society, rather than just the disabilities themselves. These barriers can be physical for example, buildings not having accessible toilets. Barriers can also be caused by peoples attitudes for example, many people will assume someone is lying because they dont make eye contact while talking.
The social model of disability can be a helpful way of considering the difficulties someone faces, and how to adapt their environment so it works for them.
Common changes to an environment that can help autistic people include:
- sensory changes for example, being given a quiet space to work, being able to use sensory toys like fidget spinners, or being allowed to make noises while working
- communication changes for example, using email or apps to communicate, using very clear language, allowing additional time to ask questions, or using visual communication such as photos or pictures as well as written words
- routine keeping to a regular routine and giving warning of any changes as far in advance as possible
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Living With An Autism Diagnosis
Receiving an ASD diagnosis as an adult could mean a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to the world. And it can help you learn how to better work with your strengths and strengthen areas of your life that are challenging.
Getting diagnosed can help you gain a different perspective on your childhood. It can also help those around you to understand and empathize more with your unique characteristics.
Better understanding the set of challenges you face can help you find new and inventive ways to work with or around those challenges. You can also work with your clinician and your family to seek treatments that may be right for you.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asd
Every person with ASD is unique, so the timing and severity of the first signs and symptoms can vary widely. Some children with ASD show signs within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not become obvious until 24 months or later. Some children with ASD appear to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then stop gaining new skills and/or start losing skills.
During infancy , a child may show symptoms that include:
- Limited or no eye contact
- No babbling
- Appearing not to hear
- Playing with toys in an unusual or limited manner
- Showing more interest in objects instead of people
- Starting language skills but then stopping or losing those skills
- Showing repetitive movements with their fingers, hands, arms or head
Up to 2 years of age, there may be continuing symptoms from infancy. A child may also:
- Focus only on certain interests
- Be unable to have reciprocal social interactions
- Move in unusual ways, such as tilting their head, flexing their fingers or hands, opening their mouth or sticking out their tongue
- Have no interest in playing with other children
- Repeat words or phrases without appearing to understand them
- Have behavioural issues, including self-injury;
- Have trouble controlling their emotions
- Like to have things a certain way, such as always eating the same food
Possible signs of ASD at any age:
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Different Questionnaires Different Results
One recent study by Dr. Peters, Dr. Goin-Kochel and others illustrated the difficulty in assessing the BAP.11 The study involved the Simons Simplex Collection, which includes 1,650 families who have just one child with autism. When autism strikes a family “out of the blue,” as it did in the SSC families, it’s more likely that any genetic change that contributed to that child’s autism was not inherited from a parent. The researchers used three different assessment tools. They found that a small percentage of the parents had the BAP, but how many parents depended on the tool used. The percentage of parents with the BAP ranged from almost none to 12 percent, depending on the test.
What explains these differences between assessment tools? It may be that each one measures a different concept of the BAP. Another explanation may be found in the way each assessment was conducted. One assessment was completed by the parent herself, another by her partner, and the third by a researcher. “Folks sometimes see themselves differently than their partners do, and often they behave differently in different contexts, which is why we felt it was important to examine BAP from these different perspectives,” said Dr. Goin-Kochel.
What Is The History Of Autism
The understanding of autism has developed over a number of decades. While the term autism was defined by Kanner, there is varying evidence that other professionals, including Grunya Efimovna Sukhareva and Paul Bleuler, had recognised the unique presentation of symptoms much earlier than this. Since the 1940s the diagnostic criteria has evolved and shifted as we learn more but now autism is widely understood as a spectrum of conditions with wide-ranging degrees of impairment
How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosed
There are no laboratory tests to determine ASD. However, certain healthcare providers receive specific training and can do screenings and evaluations if needed and who might ask parents or teachers to record observations. These providers might include specialized physicians, psychologists and speech-language pathologists.
Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism is not a single disorder, but a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. Every individual on the autism spectrum has problems to some degree with social interaction, empathy, communication, and flexible behavior. But the level of disability and the combination of symptoms varies tremendously from person to person. In fact, two kids with the same diagnosis may look very different when it comes to their behaviors and abilities.
If youre a parent dealing with a child on the autism spectrum, you may hear many different terms including high-functioning autism, atypical autism, autism spectrum disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. These terms can be confusing, not only because there are so many, but because doctors, therapists, and other parents may use them in dissimilar ways.
But no matter what doctors, teachers, and other specialists call the autism spectrum disorder, its your childs unique needs that are truly important. No diagnostic label can tell you exactly what challenges your child will have. Finding treatment that addresses your childs needs, rather than focusing on what to call the problem, is the most helpful thing you can do. You dont need a diagnosis to start getting help for your childs symptoms.
Whats in a name?
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How Common Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Based on most recent CDC report, ASD is estimated to affect about 1 in 54 children, with boys being more likely to have ASD than girls. There were more than 5 million adults in the US, or 2.21% of the population, with ASD as of 2017. Government statistics suggest that the prevalence of ASD has risen 10% to 17% in recent years.
How Common Is Autism
Autism is always present from birth, but it might not be recognised or diagnosed until adulthood. Early intervention, in the form of support for their individual needs, can be helpful for autistic children.
Even if you arent diagnosed until adulthood, getting a diagnosis can be very helpful for identifying your strengths and the things you struggle with, and finding support.
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Autistic Traits And Diagnosis
Autistic traits meaning things that autistic people often do, think, and feel are often shared by people who dont have autism too. This doesnt mean that everyone is a little bit autistic, or that autistic people dont need support.
To be diagnosed with autism, a person has to have a lot of autistic traits from birth, and those traits need to have a big effect on their life. In order to be diagnosed with autism, those traits must cause what a healthcare professional would call clinically significant difficulties in their day-to-day life. This means that they have difficulties with day-to-day life due to their autistic traits and need to use their own ways of overcoming those difficulties, or the people in their life need to help them to overcome them, or both.
Being in a supportive environment makes a big difference to an autistic persons wellbeing and quality of life.
Psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy are often used to treat depression, anxiety, and sleep problems, both in people who have autism and people who dont.
Psychological therapies can help to manage conditions linked with autism, like anxiety, but psychological therapies arent a treatment for autism itself. Therapy techniques might need to be adapted to work for an autistic person.
Challenges in daily living
Possible therapies include:
Finding the right therapies
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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Autistic People May Act In A Different Way To Other People
Autistic people may:
- find it hard to communicate and interact with other people
- find it hard to understand how other people think or feel
- find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable
- get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events
- take longer to understand information
- do or think the same things over and over
If you think you or your child may be autistic, get advice about the signs of autism.
You Get Upset If Your Daily Routine Needs To Be Changed
If you’re a routines person, with everything just so and a very specific way of getting to each of your tasks in the morning, and if you get seriously upset if those routines become obstructed, you may have a place on the autism spectrum. Routines are, for the autistic, often a way to cope with overwhelming amounts of information and sound, and a very necessary way to get through every day.
He Rarely Gives Declarations Of Love
It isn’t that they don’t love you; they just don’t understand why they need to repeat it over and over again. Besides, actions speak louder than words, and they’re sure you’d know by the way they act toward you that they love you. They’d tell you if their feelings had changed, as they have no problem being brutally honest.
“Studies have shown that people with autism can have feelings that are stronger and deeper than those without autism,” said John Elder Robison, author of Look Me in the Eye. “Yet those feelings may be invisible to outsiders because we don’t show them. Because we don’t show them or the expected response, people make the wrong assumption about our depth of feeling about other people.”
What Is Meant By The Autism Spectrum
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.
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Top 10 Facts About Adult Autism
Steven Gans, MD, is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
People with autism, like everyone else, are adults for much longer than they are kids. That’s an easy fact to overlook when you search online for information about autism,;because most articles and images focus on young children.
While it’s true that symptoms of autism appear first in early childhood, autism is not a pediatric disorder. Adults with autism face lifelong challenges.
So why is relatively little written about autism and adulthood? While there’s no absolute answer, here are some educated guesses:
- Autism manifests before age 3, so most new diagnoses of autism are in children.
- Most people who actively read about autism are worried-but-hopeful parents of children who are or may be autistic.
- Because of the changes in how autism is defined, many adults now considered autistic never received an autism diagnosis.
- High-functioning adults with autism;are often uninterested in reading about non-autistic perspectives on autism.
- Some adults with autism have intellectual disabilities that make it extremely difficult to read about autism.