Treatments For Medical Conditions That Often Accompany Autism
Certain medical conditions tend to accompany autism. Here are few examples of common conditions and possible treatments.
Aggression. Some children with autism use aggressive behavior, such as yelling or hitting, to communicate distress. To manage this issue, youll first need to understand what your child is trying to tell you. Maybe certain situations or stimuli, such as noises, cause them discomfort. Behavior therapy practices can help them develop more positive ways to express their needs.
Anxiety. Children with ASD may struggle with high anxiety or disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder . Anxiety can contribute to difficulty socializing or negative behaviors such as outbursts. However, there are various ways to manage anxiety. One helpful strategy may include teaching your child to identify anxious feelings. Gradually exposing them to the source of the anxiety in a safe environment may also help.
Hotlines and support
In the U.S.: Call the Autism Society National Helpline at 1-800-328-8476.
Australia: Call the Early Intervention helpdesk in Perth at 1800 778 581 or Get support for your child from NDIS.
Canada: Call the Autism Canada Family Support Representative at 1-800-983-1795.
New Zealand: Find helplines and support in your area at Autism New Zealand.
Helping People With Autism Reach Their Full Potential
Psychologists are working from many angles to enhance the lives of people with autism
Vol. 51, No. 5
Monitor on Psychology51
People with autism are an extraordinarily diverse group, with a broad range of interests, abilities and experiences. Approximately 1 in 59 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism, and each year, more than 60,000 teenagers with autism age out of the school system and launch into adulthood.
These groupsboth children and adultsneed support, but that support isnt always available. Though the behavioral symptoms of autism start to emerge at about 18 months of age, childrens median age at diagnosis remains stubbornly stuck at around ages 4 to 5. Even after diagnosis, many children dont receive the services they need because of long waitlists for treatment or inadequate insurance. And the service system for adults with autism is particularly sparse, with research showing that people with autism often struggle to live independently, do not receive much-needed services and are disproportionately unemployed.
Psychologists are among those working to address all these gaps, through efforts ranging from conducting basic research on development to designing interventions to engaging in the delicate work of implementing those interventions effectively in the community. And as children diagnosed with autism grow up, this field of study in psychology is poised to expand far beyond its roots in child development.
Determining A Reasonable Accommodation
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires an interactive process. This means that you and your employee with autism need to discuss what the employee needs and come to an agreement on a reasonable solution.
When managing an employee with autism, you do not have to just accept what the employee says she needs, but you do need to negotiate in good faith. What is reasonable for one company may not be reasonable for another.
If an autistic employee says she needs to work without distraction, you may allow her to wear headphones when you wouldnt otherwise allow employees to do so. This accommodation is reasonable. But, if her job involves working with customers, allowing her to wear headphones may not serve the interests of providing excellent customer service, this is not reasonable.
Its critical that your job descriptions cover all of the key functions of the employees’ jobs. That way you and an autistic job candidate can determine whether or not the candidate can perform the key functions. If she can perform the key functions, you then need to decide whether shes the best candidate based on skills, experience, and other factors you’d normally use in candidate selection.
Rejecting a candidate because she doesnt look you in the eyes when she speaks when the job mostly consists of working independently on a computer is likely to violate the law.
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What To Do During A Very Loud Very Public Meltdown
When our child has a meltdown, parents often want to stop the tears because it hurts our hearts that our kids are struggling. Or were running low on patience and just want peace and quiet.
Many times, were coping with the fifth or sixth meltdown that morning over seemingly simple things like the tag in their shirt being too itchy, their sister talking too loudly, or a change in plans.
Autistic children arent crying, wailing, or flailing to get at us somehow.
Theyre crying because its what their bodies need to do in that moment to release tension and emotion from feeling overwhelmed with emotions or sensory stimulations.
Their brains are wired differently and so its how they interact with the world. Thats something we have to come to terms with as parents so we can support them in the best way.
So how can we effectively support our children through these often loud and thrashing meltdowns?
Recreational Therapy Activities For Autism
In general, individuals with ASD enjoy the same type of activities that neurotypical individuals like. Like everyone else, individuals with ASD enjoy a range of educational and recreational activities depending on their tastes. However, social impairments or certain sensory processing issues may limit some activities concerning a negative social encounter or sensory trigger. A persons interests, tastes, and level of impairment all play a part in deciding what type of activities he prefers.
Recreational therapy activities can improve autism symptoms by providing chances for improving communication skills, language, social interaction, and providing sensory stimulation. Many autism treatments for adults involve recreational therapeutic activities or are compatible with extracurricular activities that provide benefits.
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They May Struggle To Understand Their Own Emotions For Example Anxiety Relating To Friendships Or Jealousy
They may be very sensitive to other peoples thoughts. They may also find it hard to understand the stages of friendships, which can lead to confused emotions. They may struggle to cope with anxiety that could be linked to them not knowing what to say in conversations. Anxiety can lead to the avoidance of social situations. This can mean the individual with autism becomes socially isolated, meaning they have limited opportunities to make new friends.
Complementary And Alternative Medicine Treatments
To relieve the symptoms of ASD, some parents and healthcare professionals use treatments that are outside of what is typically recommended by pediatricians. These treatments are known as complementary and alternative medicine treatments. CAM treatments refer to products or services that are used in addition to or instead of traditional medicine. They might include special diets, dietary supplementsexternal icon, chelation , biologicals , or mind-body medicine .
Many of these treatments have not been studied for effectiveness moreover, a review of studies on chelation found some evidence of harm and no evidence to indicate it is effective in treating children with ASD . Current research shows that as many as one-third of parents of children with ASD may have tried CAM treatments, and up to 10% may be using a potentially dangerous treatment . Before starting such a treatment, talk to your childs doctor.
To learn more about CAM therapies for ASD, go to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines Autismexternal icon webpage. The FDA has information about potentially dangerous treatments hereexternal icon.
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Types Of Autism Treatment Available
When it comes to early autism treatment options, there are a dizzying variety of therapies and approaches. Some autism therapies focus on reducing problematic behaviors and building communication and social skills, while others deal with sensory integration problems, motor skills, emotional issues, and food sensitivities.
With so many choices, it is extremely important to do your research, talk to autism treatment experts, and ask questions. But keep in mind that you dont have to choose just one type of therapy. The goal of autism treatment should be to treat your childs unique array of symptoms and needs. This often requires a combined treatment approach that incorporates several different types of therapy.
Common autism treatments include behavior therapy, speech-language therapy, play-based therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nutritional therapy. But keep in mind that the routine is important and the program should be designed in a way that can be sustained. You should think about what skills and behaviors are most essential and treat those first. It may not be possible to tackle everything at once.
Where To Get Information
Arming yourself with the appropriate knowledge to help your child with autism is essential. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there.
It would be best if you only sourced information from reliable sources that will provide you with accurate information. Autism Society of America and the National Autism Association are organizations that provide reliable information and resources about the condition.
The Disabilities Education Act provides children with conditions like autism access to free and low-cost health services. This law allows for your autistic child to be able to get access to evaluations, medication, therapy, and specialized devices either for free or at a very low cost. Under the act, children below the age of ten don’t need to have been given an official diagnosis of autism before accessing these services.
If you observe your child is displaying symptoms of autism or a developmental disorder, you can take advantage of this law.
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Social Impact Of Living With Autism
Autistic people often find it difficult to socialize. However, its incredibly important for a person living with ASD to get adequate social support. Social support can come from family, friends, and local support group meetings in their area.
Joining a local support group doesnt just provide help for the person living with ASD but for their families too. You get to meet other families in similar situations at support group meetings, especially families who might have more experience dealing with ASD. They may offer you valuable tips and tricks.
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act , children with conditions such as ASD are eligible to get certain free or low-cost services to help with their condition. These services include physical therapy, speech therapy, medical evaluations, and other services.
If you suspect your child has ASD or other developmental challenges but hasnt gotten a diagnosis, the IDEA allows children under 10 to benefit from these services.
How To Help Someone With Autism
Do you have a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker, a classmate, or a gym buddy who is on the autism spectrum? If so, you may find that it can be challenging, at times, to communicate clearly with this individual. While no two people with autism have the same language and social skills, the following guidelines from experts in the field can help ensure your conversations go as smoothly as possible.
1. Address him or her as you would any other adult, not a child. Do not assume that this person has limited cognitive skills. An individuals disability may be more language-based and not related to his or her ability to comprehend the content of the conversation. In other words, s/he may understand every word you say, but may have difficulty responding verbally.
2. Avoid using words or phrases that are too familiar or personal. For example, words like honey or sweetie, or cutie, can come across as demeaning or disrespectful to anyone, but particularly to someone working to establish his or her independence. Save these terms of endearment for close friends and family members.
3. Say what you mean. When interacting with an adult with autism, be literal, clear, and concise. Avoid the use of slang, nuance, and sarcasm. These forms of communication may be confusing and not easily understood by a person on the autism spectrum.
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Is It Possible To Have A Relationship With Autistic Person
Autism dating may seem challenging given the symptoms of this condition, and some people may even believe that autism and love are impossible. The reality is that this is a misconception.
While individuals with autism may have difficulty with communication and social interaction, many do desire intimate relationships with others.
A recent study with over 200 individuals with autism found that those with autism had the same interest in romantic relationships that individuals without autism did.
That being said, those with autism had more anxiety surrounding relationships, and their romantic partnerships tended not to last as long when compared to those without autism.
What can be concluded from this is that individuals with autism want to experience relationships.
The answer to Can autistic people love? appears to be yes, but autism dating may be more challenging since those who live with autism can have difficulty meeting new people, leading to anxiety with autism and romantic relationships.
Dating someone with autism and having a happy relationship is possible if you are willing to learn about the condition, be supportive of your partner, and make some compromises to accommodate their needs.
The autism dating tips below can help you with loving someone with autism.
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Instruct Us But Nicely
Are we offending you? Tell us. People with autism may experience avalanche-style misunderstandings. This hinders the formation and maintenance of lasting relationships, and can make for a very lonely life.
For us, cultivating social skills is imperative to bridging the gap of misunderstandings. We arent born with these skills, and some of us werent properly educated on social etiquette or coping mechanisms. Not knowing that stuff instinctively makes forming connections more difficult.
When were processing social cues, we might miss something and accidentally say something that comes off as stupid, mean, or offensive. Without those physical emotional cues to guide our response, were left with just the words, sometimes making it an awkward experience for a neurotypical.
To demonstrate the difficulties this imposes, try closing your eyes the next time somebody is talking to you. Itll give you an idea of how much were missing out on. Its believed that over half of all communication is nonverbal. If youre the neurotypical in the conversation, its your responsibility to make sure youre clear in your meaning. Letting us know if weve offended you will get an apology from us a lot faster than making an offended face at us.
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Physical Impact Of Living With Autism
For autistic people, the condition tends to remain a point of focus whenever they are at the doctor’s office. However, its important to stay on top of other regular medical checkups like annual physicals and monthly dental visits.
There are several treatment programs tailored for people with ASD. Very few of these programs include a physical activity regimen. Some people with ASD might find that their motor skills such as walking or coordination are affected by the condition.
Staying physically active has been proven to improve communication skills and reduce negative behaviors in autistic children.
A person with ASD needs to stay active to remain healthy. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep is as important as any treatment plan involving medication and psychotherapy.
Engaging in organized group sport and game activities can also help an autistic child develop their social skills.
Some people with ASD find it hard to maintain a balanced diet because they are picky eaters. Its not uncommon to hear that an autistic person refuses to eat certain foods because of their color, taste, or textures.
As a caretaker of an autistic person, its essential to work with them around their food preferences to find foods that they like but are also healthy. It might take some time to work through this process, and the person with ASD might throw an occasional tantrum, which is why its important to be patient with them.
They May Not Feel Confident In Their Own Abilities
=Feeling self-conscious, timid and anxious can make it undoubtedly harder for people with autism to establish friendships. If negative self-talk overrides, people will begin to believe they are not as good as others or incapable of at making friends. It can be difficult if people are unaware of their special interests and what theyre looking for in a friend.
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Talking To Your Child About Autism
It’s your choice when you want to tell your child about their autism.
Some parents do it straight away, while others wait until their child’s a bit older. There’s no right or wrong time.
When you tell your child, it may help to:
- do it when they’re feeling calm or relaxed
- talk to them in a place where they feel comfortable, with no distractions
- explain they do not have an illness, but they might need extra support to help them with some things
- explain they might find some things harder than other people, and some things easier
- bring them to a support group to meet other autistic children
The Autism Easyread guide from the National Autistic Society might help you explain autism in a way your child will understand.
How Can We Better Support People With Autism
With around 1 in 100-110 Australians living with Autism Spectrum Disorder , the event encourages all people to better understand Autism Spectrum Disorder and ensure people with ASD feel included and treated as equals in society.
What are some of the common misconceptions about Autism?
People often believe that they understand ASD after knowing one person who has ASD. This is such a misconception. People with ASD are unique. Each individual has his or her own strengths, needs and areas of difficulty.
Sometimes actions of a child with ASD can be interpreted by others as poor behaviour. Parents often tell me that they choose to stay at home rather than risk being judged in the community. Likewise, a person can appear rude in a conversation as a result of not understanding the social rules. For example, a person may make an unfavourable remark regarding anothers appearance.
What are some of the challenges for people with Autism and their families?
How can we help people with Autism feel comfortable and included?
Scope is a registered provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme . If you would like to find out more about how we can support you, visit the services page of our website.
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