May Be Easily Startled By Sounds Or Agitated By Background Noise
Although all children may exhibit adverse reactions to loud sounds, children with ASD have a particularly strong aversion to loud noises that may cause them to react by grimacing or wincing, rather than showing surprise or a normal wide-eyed curiosity.
It may be symptomatic of autism if you see your child convey their strongest emotions in the form of an adverse reaction to the music or TV being turned up too loud or if adults in the room are having a loud and animated conversation or if other children are playing nearby are making loud sounds or even when you run the vacuum cleaner.
This is something worth paying close attention to.
Because children with autism process the world around them differently, they may have trouble filtering out irrelevant sounds coming from the microwave or washing machine sounds that would disappear as white noise in the background for neorotypical children.
These reactions may result in fits, crying, anger, or even physically aggressive behaviorthe reaction differs based on the child and the severity of their sensitivity to noise.
Telling Someone They Have Aspergers Syndrome
Firstly before I begin this post, I would like to say that it has been a difficult decision, to sit down and write. How to tell some they have Aspergers is a question, that I get asked a lot on this site and it is always a difficult one to answer.
I usually try to avoid giving specific advice, because I dont know the individual involved. So rather than this blog post be about the correct answer or the correct things to say, I will try and leave it open and cover the issue from several angles and then leave it open for debate in the comments section.At the end of the day, I believe we all need to make informed decisions about this subject.
Before I go into this issue, I think its important for us to look inside, about why its important to tell the person they may have Aspergers. I have seen situations, in relationships where one partner uses the fact that the partner is on the spectrum, to win arguments or to be right and I believe this is totally the wrong motivation.
In many cases the actual diagnosis or awareness of whether a person has Aspergers Syndrome can be a liberation. Understanding why one behaves and thinks the way they do, can give the person a lot of self acceptance. With that knowledge, an individual can also seek out techniques and therapies that can support them to have a better quality of life. Now this is a good motivation to make someone aware.
How to tell someone they have Aspergers
So How Should I Describe My Child Or Someone Elses Diagnosis
If you dont know which description to use, dont worry, its taken a while but Ive figured out what works for us and I promise you will too.
There are two main approaches:
- Person-first : The argument for this approach is that it doesnt define someone by their diagnosis. Its not labelling somebody.
- Identity-first : The argument for describing someone as autistic is that its an inherent part of their identity and something to be proud of.
Last year autistic speaker Chris Bonnello, through his website Autistic Not Weird, asked 11,000 people how they describe a diagnosis.
Just over half of autistic respondents said they only use autistic person while 11 per cent preferred person with autism. About a quarter of people were happy to use either.
Almost half of the non-autistic people with no autistic relatives said they only use person with autism.
This does seem to back up the experience of many of us in the autism community, that professionals are taught to use person-first language but those on the spectrum themselves are more willing to claim the word autistic as their identity, Mr Bonnello says.
I see the arguments for person with autism but I feel tempted to give the comeback that I dont see my autism as something that is so terrible that it has to be pushed to the end of the sentence as if its not part of the real me.
Mr Bonnello also flags the danger of becoming too caught up in the debate.
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When Parents React Negatively
Regardless of the child’s diagnosis, refer to Social Exchange Theory and Autism at the web site: http://groups.msn.com/TheAutismHomePage/socialexchange.msnw to read about a way to understand and deal with behaviors. If you have regular contact with the child, follow these general rules: expect the best from the child, don’t lower your expectations. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Ignore behaviors you don’t want to see repeated and pay attention to and reinforce behaviors you want to see repeated. You can do a lot with good, solid behavioral intervention. Also read A Way To Think About Autism.
Finally, and most important of all, pray. God knows autism, He knows the human heart, and He can open doors when they are closed. Be a support to the family, be a help to the family. Hopefully, your fears will be unfounded and the child will not have Autism – don’t worry about this possibility – just share their joy. You are not a professional diagnostician – you are a concerned friend.
But if the child does have Autism, be available and help the family find the resources they need. Listen to them, cry with them, and then roll up your sleeves and get to work with them. Thank you so much for being a concerned friend. You may be the person that changes the course of this child’s life for the better. As Mordecai said to Esther in the Bible, “Who knows if you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” . Be hopeful, continue to be concerned, and most of all, be there!
Other Terminology You May Have Heard For Types Of Autism
Terms like mild or high functioning arent official diagnoses. Some people find these terms useful, but many in the autistic community havent found them to be helpful or accurate, largely due to the range of abilities that can be present in an autistic person.
You may also have heard about three levels of autism, with level 1 being the mildest and level 3 the most severe.
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Youre Very Sensitive To Stimuli Like Sound
This is an interesting one, because it differs radically across the spectrum of autism, but its worth noting. What are called atypical sensory-based behaviors, or reactions to sensory stimuli that arent quite normal, are often a part of autism, with some people extremely sensitive to various sensations or sounds. Its not the same for everybody, though. Autism seems to cause problems in some people when it comes to interpreting and processing sensory information, to the point of causing confusion and pain: you may have difficulty remembering faces, and be either over- or under-sensitive to things like noise and smell. If people keep commenting that your reactions to these things are unusual, it may be a marker of something deeper.
Images: Pixels, Giphy
He’s Resistant To Touch
When someone has ASD, they may not be as affectionate as you might like, and may act as if they’re being tortured when you give them a spontaneous hug. It isn’t that they can’t show their love it’s that they must feel comfortable and in the right frame of mind to snuggle, hug, or cuddle.
“The brains of people high in autistic traits aren’t coding touch as socially relevant,” says Martha Kaiser, associate director of the Child Neuroscience Laboratory at the Yale Child Study Center.
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Telling Your Child They Have Autism
Guest Writer: Karen Kaizuka, parent
Fear. That is the overwhelming feeling that rushes through me when I think about telling my son that he has autism. What do you say? How do you say it? Can we just not tell him?!!
Our little guy is 6. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 4. He is doing remarkably well. He is learning how to read. In fact, he is reading absolutely everything around him and is asking what words mean. We cant drive down the road without him reading signs, No Parking, Bridge Closed.
Every time we drive past the mall, he says, JCPenneys. One day he said, Mom, what is JCPenneys? I responded, Its a department store. The next time we drove by he said, JCPenneys. A department store. He then asked, Why is it called JCPenneys? I had no clue, so I quickly turned to Wikipedia for the facts.
Hes come such a long ways from a few years ago when he had lost most of his speech. I never thought that he would be able to answer a question. How many times did we act out skits about how one person asks the question, then the other person answers the question? No matter what, he would always answer the question, What is your name? with, What is your name? Now to have him inquisitive and asking questions is a dream come true!
We asked our Clinical Director, Felice Orlich, for some guidance on telling your child he/she has autism and here is what she had to say:
Signs Of Autism In Older Children And Teens
Although autism spectrum disorder can reliably be diagnosed from the age of two or three years old, many children do not receive a diagnosis until they are older. Milder symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder who are higher functioning may not be recognized until they are in school.
Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that children will have different experiences of day-to-day living. Children who are more than five years old and on into their teenage years, who have mild symptoms and are towards the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum, may:
- Develop a narrow range of interests or obsessions with certain topics
- Engage in repetitive behavior such as hand flapping, twirling or snapping a rubber band
- Not make eye contact
- Use formal language rather than the slang of their peers
- Place great importance on routines and rules
- Develop strong preferences for certain foods, clothes or objects
Children who have more severe symptoms and are towards the lower functioning range of the autism spectrum may:
- Not use speech at all
- Become extremely distressed at changes to routine
- Exhibit challenging behavior, such as being aggressive or banging head on wall
- Need assistance with everyday living, such as bathing and dressing
- Engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rocking
- Insist on rules and routine
- Develop rigid preferences for certain foods, clothes or objects
- Need specialized diets
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How Do You Tell Someone That You Have Autism
It is up to you how you choose to broach the subject of your diagnosis with people. You may find it useful to explain what autism is in a simple way, so that people understand what you mean by autism. For a simple definition of autism go to our what is autism page. You may also find it useful to seek help of an autism advocate, who can assist you to speaking to people such as your teachers, boss, colleagues or friends about autism, and how it specifically relates to you, your relationships and environment.
One of the main things I like to explain is that people with autism have varied abilities and character traits, theres not one single experience of autism.
I have Aspergers syndrome and that means Im sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances – being different is a superpower.
I would play with numbers in a way that other kids would play with their friends.
People on the spectrum experience the neurotypical world as relentlessly unpredictable and chaotic, perpetually turned up too loud, and full of people who have little respect for personal space.
Everyone has a mountain to climb and autism has not been my mountain, it has been my opportunity for victory.
What Else Should I Know
When you’re making friends, it’s important to know when to end the conversation or say goodbye. People are ready to talk about something else, or do something else, when they give clues like these:
- not looking at you
- looking past you or around the room
- doing something else, like looking in their bookbag
- changing the subject
If it helps, practice talking to a “new friend” with your mom, dad, or other trusted adult. This way, you’ll know what to say the next time you meet someone you like. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend, that’s OK. But don’t give up! There will be other chances to meet new friends.
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How To Begin A Diagnosis Process
Adults who suspect they or a loved one might be autistic can do a self-assessment test for adults. A person can find these tests online. While they cannot give a diagnosis, the tests are a good starting point.
A person seeking a diagnosis can take the results of such a test to a primary care doctor who will try to determine whether ASD may be present by:
- enquiring about the symptoms, both current and during childhood
- observing and interacting with the person
- speaking to a loved one
- checking for other physical or mental health conditions that may be causing symptoms
If no underlying physical condition can explain the symptoms, the doctor may refer the person to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to make an ASD diagnosis.
If symptoms are not present in childhood but begin in adolescence or adulthood, this may indicate a cognitive or mental health condition other than ASD.
It may be difficult to find a specialist who can diagnose ASD in adults. Individuals who would like a diagnosis for themselves or a loved one may need to do research to find a provider with experience diagnosing autistic adults.
Another option is to speak to a developmental pediatrician or child psychiatrist who is willing to see adult clients.
What Is The Main Cause Of Autism
There is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism compared to in neurotypical children.
What distinguishes Asperger’s Disorder from classic autism are its less severe symptoms and the absence of language delays. Children with Asperger’s Disorder may be only mildly affected, and they frequently have good language and cognitive skills.
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Talk With Other Parents
Parents making sense of a new diagnosis can sometimes feel overwhelmed and alone. Dr. Silverman says that one of the most important things, besides getting good treatment, is spending time with other special needs parents. Being in the company of other parents can make you feel strong rather than alone and isolated. Its important to have people who get it, she says. They can say, Someone said that to me too, and its so frustrating because thats not the way it is.
Your childs doctor might be able to recommend a local support group, or you could look online or network with other parents at special needs sports or activity groups.
Why Should I Tell My Child They Have Autism
If you dont tell your child they have autism, theres a good chance someone else will let it slip, or your child will eventually figure it out themselves, says Kelly Price, a registered psychologist who assesses children for autism in Victoria, B.C. This is particularly true if your child is participating in programs and receiving services for people with autism because the A-word is bound to come up, he adds. You dont want someone else to spill the beans before youve had the opportunity to describe it yourself, he says, adding that its unfair for parents to withhold information about their child from them when they reach a certain age, and their child may feel betrayed if they do so.
Dundon adds that kids may feel ashamed if they find out theyre autistic from someone other than their parents because it may seem like their parents were trying to hide it. She says its important for kids to know that theyre autistic because it helps them understand who they are, particularly in relation to their peers. Kids do sense that theyre different, and not helping them see why isnt okay, she says. It causes distress because they cant fit in, they dont know why things are difficult for them, they feel like theres something wrong with them. When they do find out, its like, Oh, that explains it. But Ive had all of these years of thinking that I was somehow less than my peers and that there was something wrong.
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Helping Autistic Children And Teenagers With Interactions And Communication
If autistic children understand what they need to do in certain social situations or have the skills to communicate in these situations, they might be more likely to cooperate.
Social storiesSocial stories explain social situations to autistic children. You can write one to encourage appropriate skills and behaviour in situations where your child needs to cooperate, including washing hands, going shopping, packing away and so on.
Social stories are particularly helpful for children who get anxious and prefer to know whats going to happen.
Using technology Technology can help children with limited language cooperate by making it easier for them to communicate. For example, the Picture Exchange Communication System uses pictures, symbols, words or photographs that represent tasks, actions or objects.