Carry On The Conversation:
What are some autism misconceptions which you would like to clarify? Let me know in the comments below. And, if you want to learn the truth behind autistic meltdowns, check out this article: Exploring Autism: What is an Autistic Meltdown?
As always, I can also be found on Twitter and via my email: .
If you like what you have seen on the site today, then show your support by liking the . Also, dont forget to sign up to the Autistic & Unapologetic newsletter where I share weekly updates as well as a fascinating fact I have found throughout the week.
Thank you for reading and I will see you next week for more thoughts from across the spectrum.
Signs You Could Be On The Autism Spectrum
Most of the stories you hear about people on the autistic spectrum feature them being diagnosed as children. It’s definitely common for signs of autism to first be noticed in childhood, when autistic kids don’t do much pretend play and find social interaction difficult. But it’s also perfectly possible for people, particularly those with more functional forms of autism , to reach adulthood without ever knowing they actually have a place in the autistic community.
When we talk about “the autistic spectrum,” we’re referring to a very wide range of disorders under the one banner of autism. There’s no one way to present autistic signs, which is why diagnostic tests about the possibility of autism in adults tend to be seriously involved. One quiz, offered by Psych Central to determine whether you might want to seek diagnosis from a medical professional, offers 50 different questions, from social interaction to patterns and empathy. But the basics of autism of any kind, according to The National Autistic Society, are three difficulties: with social communication, social interaction, and social imagination.
How Does Autism Affect Kids
Autistic children may not reach the same developmental milestones as their peers, or they may demonstrate the loss of previously developed social or language skills.
For instance, a 2-year-old without autism may show interest in simple games of make-believe. A 4-year-old without autism may enjoy engaging in activities with other children. An autistic child may have trouble interacting with others or dislike it altogether.
Autistic children may also engage in repetitive behaviors, have difficulty sleeping, or compulsively eat nonfood items. They may find it hard to thrive without a structured environment or consistent routine.
If your child is autistic, you may have to work closely with their teachers to ensure they succeed in the classroom.
Many resources are available to help autistic children as well as their loved ones. Local support groups can be found through the national nonprofit The Autism Society of America.
Read Also: What Is The Best Pet For An Autistic Child
What If My Friend Has Autism Spectrum Disorder
Some people with ASD do not feel that they have a disorder and don’t want to change. They’re proud of who they are and they want to be accepted, even though they may have different strengths and weaknesses than most other people.
All people deserve respect. But kids with ASD may be teased, bullied, or left out because they’re different. Bullying and teasing are never the right way to treat other people, but it may be hard to be a friend with someone who has ASD.
Kids with ASD often don’t understand playful jokes. You may need to be very clear when you communicate with someone who has ASD.
Try to be patient and kind. Remember how hard it might be for the person with ASD to understand how to be a friend. Stand up for classmates who are bullied. Tell adults, so they can help protect kids who are bullied.
You’re Very Sensitive To Stimuli Like Sound
This is an interesting one, because it differs radically across the spectrum of autism, but it’s worth noting. What are called “atypical sensory-based behaviors,” or reactions to sensory stimuli that aren’t quite normal, are often a part of autism, with some people extremely sensitive to various sensations or sounds. It’s 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
You May Like: Does Autism Shorten Life Span
How Is Nonspeaking Autism Diagnosed
Diagnosing nonspeaking autism is a multiphase process.
A pediatrician may be the first healthcare professional to screen a child for ASD. Parents, seeing unexpected symptoms such as a lack of speaking, may bring their concerns to their childs doctor.
The medical professional may request a variety of tests that could help rule out other possible causes. These include:
Some pediatricians may refer children to a developmental-behavioral pediatrician. These doctors specialize in treating conditions such as autism.
This medical professional may request additional tests and reports, which could include:
- a full medical history for the child and parents
- a review of the mothers pregnancy and any complications or issues that arose during it
- a breakdown of surgeries, hospitalizations, or medical treatments the child has had since birth
Finally, autism-specific tests may be used to confirm a diagnosis. Several tests, including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition and the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale, Third Edition , can be used with nonspeaking children.
These tests help healthcare professionals determine if a child meets the criteria for autism.
My Autistic Child Has Feelings
A common challenge children on the Autism Spectrum and their parents face is the assumption that because an autistic child cannot verbalize or express their feelings like a neurotypical child might, those feelings must not exist. But nothing could be further from the truth. As one parent bluntly describes, Even children who dont speak can still hear you. Dont talk to me over my children like they arent there, especially if youre going to sympathetically tell me what a saint I am for dealing with a horrible situation every day. Im not a saint. Im their mother. And she HEARS YOU and understands that youre saying shes a burden to me.
Also Check: What Is The Symbol For Autism
Find Other Parents Who Will Understand And Support You
“It always has been invaluable to have other parents who are going through the same thing as you are, to call them up and say I cant believe this is happening to me today. Because to the rest of the community, the things that happen to us, theyre really not the norm.” Ruth Singer Strunck, the mom of two young adults with autism
The Flavors Of Autism
Genes can be passed directly from parent to child, but not all genetic changes, or mutations, come from parents. Children also can have mutations that occur by chance or by virtue of some environmental influence. Parents’ ages are one example of an environmental influence children born to older parents are more likely to have genetic changes that they did not inherit from their folks.7 These mutations are de novo, a Latin expression that means new.
Researchers theorize that families who have more than one member with autism are more likely to be passing down genes for autism. If that’s true, then those parents are more likely to show autistic-like characteristics than families who have only one member with autism. Scientists hope to figure out what those genes are, and how they trigger autism in their children. For example, would genes associated with rigidity or obsessiveness in parents be related to repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping in their offspring with autism?
Some researchers believe there are different types, or flavors, of autism, and examining genetic influences can help pinpoint them.
Understanding the different types of autism, and the spectrum of traits related to autism, could lead to better and more individualized treatments, she said.
You May Like: Autism Inheritance Pattern
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.
What Causes Autism: 6 Facts You Need To Know
There are lots of frightening rumors about what causes autism, a mysterious brain disorder, in children. We asked leading experts across the country to get you answers.
Nancy Wiseman had a feeling early on that something wasn’t quite right with her daughter. When Sarah was 6 months old, she stopped babbling, and by 10 months, she was silent. By 18 months, the increasingly aloof toddler no longer responded to her name, and she resisted being held, kissed, or touched. “I felt that I was losing my child a little more each day,” says Wiseman, of Merrimac, Massachusetts. When Sarah wasn’t saying any words or even making sounds that resembled words by 20 months, her grandmother, a school psychologist, suspected that the girl might actually be deaf. Instead, Wiseman was devastated to learn that her daughter had autism. “The diagnosis really knocked the wind out of me,” she recalls, “but I was relieved to finally know what was wrong.”
There are many unanswered questions,” says Alice Kau, Ph.D., an autism expert at the National Institutes of Health, which funded more than $74 million in autism research in 2002, as compared with only $22 million in 1997. Still, researchers are beginning to make progress in unraveling this baffling disorder, and the number of resources available for families is increasing. Here, six facts about autism that every parent should know.
Don’t Miss: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
What Does It Mean To Have Just A Hint Of Autism
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld stepped into a minefield when he diagnosed himself as being on the autism spectrum “on a very drawn out scale.” Some applauded the attention he brought to autism, while others, including parents of children with severe autism, complained that he trivialized the real problems of a real disability. How can someone who achieved fame by lampooning social foibles really have anything in common with people who struggle with basic social functioning?
In an interview with NBC news, Seinfeld said he has trouble paying attention “to the right thing,” “basic social engagement is really a struggle” and he finds figures of speech confusing.1 He later clarified that he doesn’t have autism,2 but his remarks left one lingering question. Were these faint whispers of autism he described similar to what researchers call the Broader Autism Phenotype, or BAP?
People with the BAP have some traits common to autism spectrum disorder , but not enough to have the disorder. But it’s not comedians who have drawn scientific scrutiny for having the BAP: it’s the parents and siblings of people who actually have autism.
What is this autistic-like condition, and how can you measure it? Is understanding this condition important for understanding autism? Or is BAP just another example of the over-medicalization of personality traits especially when they belong to the parents of children with autism.
Success In Autistic Adults
While it’s relatively rare, quite a few adults with diagnosed autism are moderately to extremely successful people. Some are happily married and partnered, and many are fully employed.
Quite a few have become role models for young adults on the spectrum who hope to live full, independent lives. Just a few such role models include:
- Temple Grandin, animal husbandry expert, author, and public speaker
- Stephen Shore, author, musician, professor, public speaker
- John Elder Robison, author, and public speaker
- Dan Ackroyd, actor, singer, radio personality
- Daryl Hannah, actor
These individuals and with many others are active autism advocates. Many speak publicly about their experiences and offer resources and insights both to autistic adults and to their family members.
Also Check: How To Improve Sitting Tolerance In Autism
Early Screening For Autism Spectrum Disorder
Because autism spectrum disorders range from mild to severe, many children are not diagnosed early. Diagnosing autism may be difficult because there are no medical tests, such as blood tests, that can diagnose children. Therefore, treatments may be delayed for years. Autism can sometimes be detected in children 18 months or younger. Many pediatric doctors can diagnosis children by age 2.
Developmental screening for children is an efficient test to tell if they are learning basic skills when they should. During this exam a doctor might ask the parent some questions or talk and play with the child to see how he/she learns, speaks, behaves, and moves. All children should be screened during their 9-, 18- and 24-month well-child doctor visits. Older children are often screened if they seem to fall behind age-related developmental levels.
Varied Availability Of Services
Adults with autism are entitled to nothing but are likely to receive at least some level of support. If you live in some states, you’ll have little trouble accessing services and funding for adults with autism.
If you live in other states, you’re out of luck. According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services , thes states offer the least generous programs and services:
Of course, the definition of “services and funding” varies depending upon need. For example, Medicaid doesn’t provide vocational training or supportservices that would be particularly useful to higher functioning adults.
Medicaid may or may not be a source of funding for housing, day programs, and other services.
One excellent, updated source of information about state-by-state offerings is Easter Seals. While they do focus quite a bit on children, they also include a wide range of detailed information about resources and services for all ages.
Recommended Reading: Jeff Wittek Social Blade
Im Not Someone To Pity Simply Because My Child Has Autism
Autistic children are writing books, making films, creating blogs, and making all sorts of other groundbreaking achievements. Yet, when a parent tells someone their child is autistic, they are usually met with an unnecessary apology or look of pity. Autism is not something to be pitied, and our societys outlook should change to reflect that.
We Dont Need Autism Awareness We Need Autism Acceptance
Youve probably seen the bumper stickers, Facebook posts and the t-shirts calling for Autism Awareness. But as parents of children on the Autism Spectrum continually insist, our society is aware of autism. Its autism acceptance that we need. Though one in 68 American children are now diagnosed with autism, our society still treats autistic individuals and their families as social pariahs. To become a more inclusive society will take advancements in access to services, affordable health care, employment opportunities, Medicaid expansion, fair pay, and more opportunities for quality education.
More for Parents and Families:
Read Also: Hypnosis And Autism
How Is Autism Diagnosed
Doctors check babies and little kids for signs of autism at every checkup. A parent may think that something is wrong and tell the doctor. Maybe the child is old enough to speak but doesn’t. Or a kid doesn’t seem interested in people or plays in unusual ways.
When a doctor thinks a kid might have autism, he or she will work with a team of experts to see if it is autism or something else.
Behavioural Signs In Infants Between 6 And 12 Months Can Predict Asd
A 2005 Canadian study published in the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, with over 200 participants was the first to pinpoint specific behavioural signs in infants as young as 12 months that can predict, with remarkable accuracy, whether a child will develop autism.
Autism is one of the most prevalent disorders today, and while a bio marker was finally found last year to help with early diagnosis, its normally only 80% effective, and so far mostly being used on higher risk infants. Also it is found using an MRI, and wait times can be long. Most doctors instead must rely on parent observations, observing the child themselves, and using standardized tools like the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers . However these tools are made for children who are 18 months and older, a long time especially when early detection and intervention can help with many of the frustrations that develop from communication problems.
Because of the research done, a scale was developed to help doctors with early assessment in infants as young as 6 months . The Autism Observation Scale for Infants has been a fantastic new tool to help parents and doctors get an early diagnosis.
You May Like: Aspergers Life Expectancy
Im Not An Autism Expert
If you want to learn more about autism and what its like to be autistic, there is one reliable source: a person on the Autism Spectrum. Parents of autistic children can tell you what it is like to live with a person on the Spectrum. They are experts on their own child. But the only person who can tell you what its like to live with autism is an autistic person himself.
How Should I Discipline My Autistic Child
Tantrums and other difficult behaviors often emerge from an autistic childs need to communicate. An essential component of discipline is therefore identifying what sparked their meltdown or what they want to express. Maybe the child was overwhelmed by the crowd at a holiday dinner or forbidden from playing with a toy. The first step of disciplining a child is observing and identifying potential triggers.
Parents may then seek to implement a system of rewards for positive behavior and punishment for negative behavior. Following this plan consistently can help the child understand the consequences of their actions.
Also Check: Can A Child With Autism Have Dyslexia