Differences Between Autism And Sensory Processing Disorder
Studies have been conducted to show the differences between children with autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder. In one study, 210 participants were included with 68 having autism spectrum disorder, 79 having sensory processing disorder, and 63 with typical development . Any child who had ASD with SPD was not included in the study.;
Children were scored for Sensory Over-Reactivity , where sensory items bother a child; Sensory Under-Reactivity , where sensory items were not noticed by the child; and Sensory Craving , where the child needed certain sensory stimulation. They were also scored for their Empathy Quotient , or how easily or strongly they reacted to or were able to gauge another persons feelings. Finally, the children were scored for their Systemizing Quotient , or how interested the child was in understanding how the internal components of a machine worked.
They found that for Sensory Under-Reactivity, the ASD group scored higher than the SPD group, which scored higher than the TD group. For Sensory Over- Reactivity, the ASD and SPD groups were relatively the same, but much higher than the TD group. For Sensory Craving, the ASD and SPD groups were about the same as each other, but with higher scores than the TD group. In the category of Systemizing Quotient, children with ASD scored higher than both the SPD and TD groups.;
Spd Or Asd: Finding The Right Diagnosis
It is important for parents to find a professional who can provide the correct diagnosis, as early as possible, so children can receive the appropriate treatment. Many doctors will try to help alleviate the sensory issues while treating the autism spectrum disorder, if that diagnosis applies.
Various skills that a child learns to do at different age levels is called a developmental milestone, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ,
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern. The CDC website has a list of the milestones by months and years, which parents can check to compare their childs progress and discuss with the pediatrician if there is a concern. Once it has been determined that the child is falling behind on any of the milestones, and if there is a concern of autism spectrum disorder, a recommendation should be made for the child to be examined by a specialist. This could be a developmental pediatrician, a pediatric neurologist, or possibly a child psychologist or psychiatrist.
Social Communication / Interaction Behaviors May Include:
- Making little or inconsistent eye contact
- Tending not to look at or listen to people
- Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
- Failing to, or being slow to, respond to someone calling their name or to other verbal attempts to gain attention
- Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversation
- Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond
- Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said
- Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like
- Having trouble understanding another persons point of view or being unable to predict or understand other peoples actions
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Tell The Child Specifically What You Expect And Allow Him To Earn Privileges For Complying With Your Expectations
For instance, if your child often has a tantrum in a store when he cant go to the toy aisle, tell him exactly what you expect of him before you go to the store and reward him with a privilege for following that expectation. For instance, you can say something like We are going to Target. We are going to the school supply aisle to buy paper and pens, and then we will pay and go home. Once in the store you can give reminders .
Let the child know that he can earn a privilege for following the rules. Privilege ideas include getting a sticker of a favorite character, playing a favorite game once at home, watching a favorite show, going on the computer, staying up ten minutes past bed time, etc. Try to think of a privilege that your child might like or ask him what he would like to work towards.
When the child earns the privilege, praise him with specific language. In the example above you could say, You followed the rules at the Target. We got the paper and pens, paid, and came home. Nice work! Now you can enjoy some computer time. Make sure the privilege is something the child wants. You can let the child choose what he would like to work for ahead of time. Children also benefit from nonverbal praise such as high fives, smiles, thumbs up, etc.
Common Conditions Among People With Autism
While many people with autism are misdiagnosed with other types of mental illness, many are also appropriately diagnosed with both autism and mental illness. In fact, mental illness is more common among people with autism than it is among the general population.
The most common co-occurring mental illnesses for people with autism include depression and anxiety.
It’s not completely clear why this may be the case. One theory suggests that there is a genetic link between autism and mental illness. Another theory points to the extreme challenges of living in the modern world with autism. The fact is that for many people with autism, it is anxiety-provoking and depressing to attempt to overcome social, sensory, and/or intellectual challenges that are simply part of who they are.
In addition to mental illness, many children and adults with autism receive additional developmental diagnoses. While it can be argued in many cases that the symptoms are associated with autism, it is sometimes helpful to know that a child is both autistic and, for example, diagnosable with ADHD, learning disabilities, hyperlexia, Savant Syndrome, or another disorder.
A secondary diagnosis, while it may or may not be completely appropriate, can sometimes provide direction for therapy, academic support, and services. Hopefully, in doing so, this could correct any potential misdiagnoses moving forward.
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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.
What Are The Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Signs of ASD range from mild to severely disabling, and every person is different. The following signs are considered to be red flags that indicate your young child may be at risk for autism. If your child shows any of the following signs, please get in touch with your childs healthcare provider to discuss a referral for an autism evaluation.
The signs include the following:
- Your child doesnt respond to their name being called at all or responds inconsistently.
- Your child doesnt smile widely or make warm, joyful expressions by the age of 6 months.
- Your child doesnt engage in smiling, making sounds and making faces with you or other people by the age of 9 months.
- Your child doesnt babble by 12 months.
- No back-and-forth gestures such as showing, pointing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
- No words by 16 months.
- No meaningful, two-word phrases by 24 months.
- Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.
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Is Autism Considered An Emotional Disability
Previously, we discussed emotional behavioral disorder and what kinds of disorders qualify as EBD as well as what their symptoms are. Autism and EBD are not the same, but they are easily confused because students who suffer from EBD and autism are frequently placed in the same classes in school, and some of the symptoms are similar. Here, we discuss broadly what autism is and how it can be distinguished from EBD.
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that falls on a spectrum, so not every autistic individual will suffer from the same symptoms or level of impairment. Getting the correct diagnosis can prove difficult, especially if autistic individuals also have EBDboth disorders include problems with social interaction, behavior, and communication. Doctors may diagnose one condition but not the other or diagnose the wrong one, either of which could hamper appropriate treatment.
The most common symptoms of autism include the following: severe language delays; serious delays in early childhood developmental milestones; reluctance to make eye contact; no pretend play; problems making friends; preference to be alone and not interact with peers; appearance of aloofness; requires strict routine; obsessive or repetitive behavior; sensory issues; frequent irrational tantrums; problems with attention; and difficulty understanding verbal instructions.
What Are The Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Children with autism often show symptoms before they are two years old. Some children begin to lose language or social skills at the age of one or two. Autism looks different in each child. Not every child shows every symptom, and some have more severe symptoms.
Symptoms of ASD are grouped into two categories:
Social Communication and Social Interaction
- Doesnt like to cuddle or hug
- Likes to play alone
- Hasnt spoken a word by 18 months
- Cannot say two-word phrases by two years old
- Speaks differently than other children:
- Sounds like a robot when speaking
- Speaks in a very singsong way
- Repeats phrases or puts words in the wrong order
- Can recite information but not use it to solve problems or have a conversation
- Rarely or never makes eye contact
- Has trouble carrying on a conversation and letting the other person talk
- Repeats the same action over and over again
- Focuses on small details and nothing else
- Struggles with changes in their routine
- Puts toys in order instead of playing with them
- Gets extremely focused on specific topics or objects
Additionally, children with autism are often sensitive to sounds, lights, textures or smells. This is called asensory processing problem. For example, loud noises or bright lights can make them very uncomfortable. Or, they may need more sensations to feel comfortable, so they will try to bump into things or constantly touch or smell things.
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Clinical Development And Diagnoses
Leo Kannerearly infantile autism
The word autism first took its modern sense in 1938 when Hans Asperger of the Vienna University Hospital adopted Bleuler’s terminology autistic psychopaths in a lecture in German about child psychology. Asperger was investigating an ASD now known as Asperger syndrome, though for various reasons it was not widely recognized as a separate diagnosis until 1981.Leo Kanner of the Johns Hopkins Hospital first used autism in its modern sense in English when he introduced the label early infantile autism in a 1943 report of 11 children with striking behavioral similarities. Almost all the characteristics described in Kanner’s first paper on the subject, notably “autistic aloneness” and “insistence on sameness”, are still regarded as typical of the autistic spectrum of disorders. It is not known whether Kanner derived the term independently of Asperger.
Kanner’s reuse of autism led to decades of confused terminology like infantile schizophrenia, and child psychiatry’s focus on maternal deprivation led to misconceptions of autism as an infant’s response to “refrigerator mothers“. Starting in the late 1960s autism was established as a separate syndrome.
Treatment Considerations: Asha’s Position
Several treatment options and approaches lack scientific evidence of validity and are not endorsed by ASHA. They are Auditory Integration Training , Facilitated Communication , and Rapid Prompting Method . Below are brief descriptions of these treatments, along with ASHA’s position on each. Click on the hyperlinks provided to read ASHA’s full position statements.
Auditory Integration Training
Auditory Integration Training is a type of sensory integration treatment that involves exercising the middle ear muscles and auditory nervous system to treat a variety of auditory and nonauditory disorders, including auditory processing problems, dyslexia, learning disabilities, attention-deficit disorders, and ASD. The treatment typically involves listening to specially filtered and modulated music for two 30-minute sessions per day for 10 consecutive days. The objective is to reduce distortions in hearing and hypersensitivity to specific frequencies so that the individual will be able to perceive soundsâincluding speechâin a normal fashion.
According to ASHA’s position statement titled, Auditory Integration Training, “The 2002 ASHA Work Group on AIT, after reviewing empirical research in the area to date, concludes that AIT has not met scientific standards for efficacy that would justify its practice by audiologists and speech-language pathologists” .
Rapid Prompting Method
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Distract And Redirect Problematic Behavior Instead Of Saying Stop Or No
For example, if the child is running in the store, remind him or show him how to walk nicely. If necessary, find something interesting to show him and call his attention to it, rather than focusing on the problematic behavior. If he is running in the hall at school, redirect him back to the line, with a short directive such as, Come back to your spot in line or remind him to walk in the hallway. For children with trouble understanding language, try demonstrating what is expected or use a gesture, rather than just giving the verbal direction.
Stay Calm When Interacting With The Child
If you are regularly having trouble staying calm, you may benefit from talking to a friend, family member, or therapist for support. Do not take it out on your child. Yelling and threatening will not make behavior better. It may stop the behavior in the short-term, but the behaviors will occur again. You may actually make the behaviors worse because the child may start to feel anxious, scared, angry, embarrassed, or sad. Children with autism are not choosing to act in a way that is frustrating to you or anyone else. They legitimately need positive support from you to help them meet their emotional/behavioral needs.
Finally, it is important to recognize that some children on the autism spectrum have trouble generalizing expectations across situations, so the same strategies may need to be used in situations that are similar to one another.
Keep in Mind: If you are using these strategies for the first time, you may not see change as quickly as you d like. Your child/student will not be used to your new techniques and may even push harder;due to the sudden change in your behavior.;I know it is hard but be patient and keep implementing these strategies with consistency.
Here are some;options for how you can create pictures to use with children with language difficulties:
If you work in a school, they may already have a laminator for you to use. If you are a parent, you can also try asking your childs school if they can help you laminate some pictures for an at home schedule.
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Why Children Are Misdiagnosed
Autism is not always a child’s first diagnosis, particularly if he or she is verbal and of average intelligence. Not infrequently, children who wind up with an autism diagnosis receive a range of other diagnoses firstincluding, in some cases, other types of mental disorders.
There is a simple reason for these misdiagnoses: a child who is bright and verbal may not be evaluated for autism. As a result, the child’s symptoms are viewed not as a set of related challenges, but as individual issues that could potentially be signs of another mental illness. There are a number of behaviors in autism and other mental illnesses that may share characteristics and lead to an erroneous diagnosis.
Signs In Girls Vs Boys
It is well documented that more boys than girls are diagnosed with ASD . Girls who do meet the diagnostic criteria for ASD during early childhood tend to have additional problems . This is not the case for boys .
One reason for the discrepancy in diagnosis may be that ASD traits “look different” in girls than in boys. A diagnostic bias toward characteristic ASD traits as they present in boys makes it easy to miss ASD traits as they present in girls . In addition, girls also tend to have fewer and less unusual repetitive stereotyped behaviors than boys .
The following are differences in the playground behaviors of girls and boys with ASD :
Girls with ASD
- stay in closer proximity to their peers and are better able to capitalize on social opportunity,
- spend more time in joint engagement,
- spend more time talking as a primary activity, and
- appear to use compensatory behaviors to gain access into peer groups .
Boys with ASD
- tend to play alone rather than participating in organized games,
- spend more time alone, and
- spend more time wandering as a primary activity.
A second explanation for the discrepancy in diagnosis might be that girls without additional problems are better able to cope with similar levels of ASD traits. They may mask their social challenges by using various compensatory behaviors .
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Use Visuals And Social Stories
A choice board is an excellent example of a visual. Many children with autism need visual reminders, prompts, and social stories throughout the day to stay on task and be successful. Using a variety of visuals in the form of pictures, flip charts, posters, and cards help support students needs. They are used to prepare students for transitions, to help make choices, to give them answer options to questions, etc.;
Social stories, in particular, are used to prepare children with autism for upcoming events or for transitions. Some stories are only simple sentences while others incorporate many visuals for non-readers. An example of a situation in which a student might need a social story is if little Johnny often has problem behaviors right before it is time to get on the school bus at the end of the day. His teacher creates a social story with visuals to read with him once he cleans his area up for the day and is waiting for his bus to be called. It consists of four simple sentences and describes why it is important for Johnny to get on the bus and the steps he must take to make it there. Johnny and his teacher will continue to read his social story each day, then periodically after once problem behaviors have ceased.;
There are so many pre-made social stories online for all sorts of situations and the site Your Therapy Source guides individuals through making their own from scratch.;