Saturday, July 13, 2024

Is Autism A Mental Disability

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Types Causes And Symptoms Of Mental Illness

The Difference between Autism & Mental Retardation

Over 200 different forms of mental illness have been classified to date. Anxiety disorders, major depression, and ADHD are among the most common mental illnesses that occur in people with autism spectrum disorder.

In general, mental illness is believed to be caused by a range of factors, including:

Genetic traits: Mental illness is more common in people who have blood relatives with a mental disorder.

Environmental exposures: Being in the womb, including toxins, stressors, and inflammatory conditions.

Brain chemistry: Brain chemicals govern mood and emotion, and when the production of neurotransmitters or the function of nerve receptors change, mental illness often occurs.

Environmental factors: Stress, drug or alcohol abuse, and trauma commonly lead to mental illness.

While each type of mental illness has its own specific set of signs and symptoms, general signs and symptoms of mental illness, include:

Feelings of sadness

Changes in eathing or sleeping habits or sex drive

Restrictive / Repetitive Behaviors May Include:

  • Repeating certain behaviors or having unusual behaviors. For example, repeating words or phrases, a behavior called echolalia
  • Having a lasting intense interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts
  • Having overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects
  • Getting upset by slight changes in a routine
  • Being more or less sensitive than other people to sensory input, such as light, noise, clothing, or temperature

People with ASD may also experience sleep problems and irritability. Although people with ASD experience many challenges, they may also have many strengths, including:

  • Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time
  • Being strong visual and auditory learners
  • Excelling in math, science, music, or art

Is Autism A Disability

By Sharon Longo, BA

Is autism a disability? If its not a disability, what is autism? Is it a disorder? Or is it simply a different way of responding to people and the world around us? These are questions many parents ask, as well as people on the spectrum themselves. Unfortunately, the answers are far from straightforward.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , autism spectrum disorder is defined as a developmental disability while the National Institute of Mental Health, states that ASD is a developmental disorder.

Meanwhile, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has 13 categories for disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder is number three on the list, calling it a developmental disability that affects social and communication skills but can also have an impact on behavior.

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What Are The Recent Developments In Research For Autism

MQ are funding many research projects related to ASD. Here are some of the following:

Investigating the causes and consequences of mental ill-health in young people with Autism

Dr Mark Taylor uses large genetic and family history data in the hope discover why transitioning to adulthood is so difficult for autistic individuals, and what the longer-term consequences of these difficulties might be. Find out more.

Elucidating the relationship and co-evolution of sensory reactivity and mental health symptoms in autism

With around 80% of autistic individuals experiencing problems with the sensory world. Dr Teresa Tayassoli and her team at University of Reading study to see whether sensory symptoms could be causing issues such as anxiety, enabling us to reduce mental health problems. Find out more.

Aligning Dimensions of Interoceptive Experience to prevent the development of anxiety disorders in autismProfessor Hugo Critchley and his team at the University of Sussex are investigating whether a new therapy called ADIE could provide a much-needed step for stopping autism from developing anxiety disorders in the first place. This works by helping people to manage the stress they feel in response to unexpected physical changes. Find out more.

What Are Some Common Signs Of Asd

Mental Retardation

Even as infants, children with ASD may seem different, especially when compared to other children their own age. They may become overly focused on certain objects, rarely make eye contact, and fail to engage in typical babbling with their parents. In other cases, children may develop normally until the second or even third year of life, but then start to withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.

The severity of ASD can vary greatly and is based on the degree to which social communication, insistence of sameness of activities and surroundings, and repetitive patterns of behavior affect the daily functioning of the individual.

Social impairment and communication difficultiesMany people with ASD find social interactions difficult. The mutual give-and-take nature of typical communication and interaction is often particularly challenging. Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact with other people, and only interact with others to achieve specific goals. Often children with ASD do not understand how to play or engage with other children and may prefer to be alone. People with ASD may find it difficult to understand other peoples feelings or talk about their own feelings.

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Are Children Eligible For Disability Benefits

The SSA takes the guesswork out of the autism and disability question. Children who meet guidelines put forth by the SSA are eligible for benefits.

Children between 3 and 18 years old must have:

  • Medical documentation. They need paperwork that proves they have communication deficits, social interaction limitations, and restricted behavior patterns.
  • Mental functioning limits. They must struggle with understanding information, interactions with others, concentration, or adapting to situations. Severe limits in one area or marked difficulties with two areas are enough to qualify.

SSA administrators look over a lot of data to make decisions. They might require an intelligence test, or they could review an older child’s school records. The team might also talk with your child’s doctor or therapists.

Income plays a role in qualifications. Since children don’t work, experts assess the wealth of parents. Income is a top reason for denied benefits, experts say. The more people who live in your household, the higher your wealth limit.

How Is Autism Treated

There is no cure for ASD. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can substantially improve those symptoms. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of the individual. Most health care professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better.

Educational/behavioral interventions: Early behavioral/educational interventions have been very successful in many children with ASD. In these interventions therapists use highly structured and intensive skill-oriented training sessions to help children develop social and language skills, such as applied behavioral analysis, which encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative ones. In addition, family counseling for the parents and siblings of children with ASD often helps families cope with the particular challenges of living with a child with ASD.

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Diagnosis In Young Children

Diagnosis in young children is often a two-stage process.

Stage 1: General Developmental Screening During Well-Child Checkups

Every child should receive well-child check-ups with a pediatrician or an early childhood health care provider. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for developmental delays at their 9-, 18-, and 24- or 30-month well-child visits and specifically for autism at their 18- and 24-month well-child visits. Additional screening might be needed if a child is at high risk for ASD or developmental problems. Those at high risk include children who have a family member with ASD, have some ASD behaviors, have older parents, have certain genetic conditions, or who were born at a very low birth weight.

Parents experiences and concerns are very important in the screening process for young children. Sometimes the doctor will ask parents questions about the childs behaviors and combine those answers with information from ASD screening tools, and with his or her observations of the child. Read more about screening instruments on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Children who show developmental problems during this screening process will be referred for a second stage of evaluation.

Stage 2: Additional Evaluation

This second evaluation is with a team of doctors and other health professionals who are experienced in diagnosing ASD.

This team may include:

The evaluation may assess:

  • Blood tests

What Are The Common Treatments For Autism

Neurodevelopmental Disorders | ADHD, Autism, Motor Disorder, Learning & Intellectual Disability, ASD


Because ASD is a spectrum disorder, each person who has it is unique, and their requirements will vary.

Though they may face challenges, with the right support in place, they are more than capable of living fulfilling and happy lives.

Therapies such as Behavioural, Psychological and educational therapy consist of learning life-skills necessary to live independently, reduce challenging behaviours, learn social, communication and language skills. Research has shown that early intervention can improve learning, communication, and social skills.


Autism itself does not require medication, although individuals can be treated for conditions often associated with autism, such as anxiety.

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Autism Is Not An Illness

Being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people.

It’s something you’re born with or first appears when you’re very young.

If you’re autistic, you’re autistic your whole life.

Autism is not a medical condition with treatments or a “cure”. But some people need support to help them with certain things.

Where Can I Get More Information

For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:

Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892

NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

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When Should I See My Doctor

It’s important to seek help if you are concerned you or your child has autism. Early intervention offers the best outcomes, no matter what type of autism a child has.

There may be different signs of autism in different ages.

In the first year, a baby with autism might not be interested in other people and may not make eye contact with their parents. They may not smile or gesture like other babies.

As toddlers, children with autism might not respond to their name, or might focus on activities like lining up toys. They may not be interested in playing with other children or might speak in a monotone way.

Older children with autism might have difficulties in social situations, following instructions or making friends.

Sometimes people are not diagnosed with autism until they are adults. They may spend their lives feeling like they dont quite fit in. They may have difficulties with relationships, work and social situations. They may also have mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.

Autism Awareness Australia provides information about signs of autism in people at different ages.

Repetitive And Restrictive Behaviour

Autism Awareness Autistic Autismo Mental Asperger ...

With its unwritten rules, the world can seem a very unpredictable and confusing place to autistic people. This is why they often prefer to have routines so that they know what is going to happen. They may want to travel the same way to and from school or work, wear the same clothes or eat exactly the same food for breakfast.

Autistic people may also repeat movements such as hand flapping, rocking or the repetitive use of an object such as twirling a pen or opening and closing a door. Autistic people often engage in these behaviours to help calm themselves when they are stressed or anxious, but many autistic people do it because they find it enjoyable.

Change to routine can also be very distressing for autistic people and make them very anxious. It could be having to adjust to big events like Christmas or changing schools, facing uncertainty at work, or something simpler like a bus detour that can trigger their anxiety.

Read more about repetitive behaviours and dealing with change here

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asd

People with ASD have difficulty with social communication and interaction and have restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. The list below gives some examples of the types of behaviors that are common in people diagnosed with ASD. Not all people with ASD will have all behaviors, but most will have several of the behaviors listed below.

Social communication/interaction behaviors may include:

  • Making little or inconsistent eye contact
  • Having a tendency not to look at or listen to people
  • Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing at 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

Restrictive/repetitive behaviors may include:

People with ASD may also experience sleep problems and irritability. Although people with ASD experience many challenges, they may also have many strengths, including:

Behavioral Psychological And Educational Therapy

People with ASD may be referred to doctors who specialize in providing behavioral, psychological, educational, or skill-building interventions. These programs are typically highly structured and intensive and may involve parents, siblings, and other family members. These programs may help people with ASD:

  • Learn life skills necessary to live independently.
  • Reduce challenging behaviors.
  • Increase or build upon strengths.
  • Learn social, communication, and language skills.

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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.

What Are The Dsm

Finn Gardiner – Intersecting Selfhood Trans: Identity, Autism and Mental Health Disability

In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .

The DSM-5 is now the standard reference that healthcare providers use to diagnose mental and behavioral conditions, including autism.

By special permission of the American Psychiatric Association, you can read the full-text of the new diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder and the related diagnosis of social communication disorder below.

Also see: Answers to frequently asked questions about DSM-5 criteria for autism

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What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a developmental disorder because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders, people with ASD have:

  • Difficulty with communication and interaction with other people
  • Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors
  • Symptoms that affect the persons ability to function in school, work, and other areas of life

Autism is known as a spectrum disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience.

ASD occurs in all ethnic, racial, and economic groups. Although ASD can be a lifelong disorder, treatments and services can improve a persons symptoms and ability to function. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for autism. All caregivers should talk to their childs doctor about ASD screening or evaluation.

Treatment Of Autism And Mental Retardation

Autism: For autism, early speech or behavioral interventions can help children with autism gain self-care, social, and communication skills. However, there is no known cure.

Mental Retardation: Currently, there is no cure for an established mental disability, though, with appropriate support and teaching, most individuals can learn to do many 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.

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