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 Is The Spectrum
A spectrum was created for diagnosing autism because the disorder varies so greatly among those who have it. Although the spectrum is numbered, at levels 1, 2, and 3, those diagnosed are usually referred to as low-functioning or high-functioning autistic. Low-functioning meaning they have many daily struggles, and high-functioning meaning most people may not see that the person has autism.
Repetitive Or Restrictive Behaviors
An autistic child who has adopted certain repetitive or restrictive behaviors may exhibit some of these signs:
- performs repetitive motions, such as flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or spinning
- persistently or repeatedly lines up toys or other objects in an organized fashion
- gets upset or frustrated by small changes in their daily routine
- has to follow certain routines
- plays with toys the same way every time
- likes certain parts of objects
- has obsessive interests
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Restricted Behavior And Play
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are often restricted, rigid, and even obsessive in their behaviors, activities, and interests. Symptoms may include:
- Repetitive body movements moving constantly.
- Obsessive attachment to unusual objects .
- Preoccupation with a narrow topic of interest, sometimes involving numbers or symbols .
- A strong need for sameness, order, and routines . Gets upset by change in their routine or environment.
- Clumsiness, atypical posture, or odd ways of moving.
- Fascinated by spinning objects, moving pieces, or parts of toys .
- Hyper- or hypo-reactive to sensory input .
Living With An Autism Diagnosis
Receiving an ASD diagnosis as an adult could mean a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to the world. And it can help you learn how to better work with your strengths and strengthen areas of your life that are challenging.
Getting diagnosed can help you gain a different perspective on your childhood. It can also help those around you to understand and empathize more with your unique characteristics.
Better understanding the set of challenges you face can help you find new and inventive ways to work with or around those challenges. You can also work with your clinician and your family to seek treatments that may be right for you.
Communication And Interaction Tips For Asd
There are no hard-and-fast rules on how to communicate with a child with ASD. But many family members have had success with these tips:
It can be challenging to interact with a child or grandchild with ASD. But it is one of the most important things you can do to help that child learn. Research shows that early, frequent, and loving involvement of family members is one of the best ways to help children with ASD.
Am I Autistic 17 Signs You May Be On The Autism Spectrum
Although advances are being made in the field every day, we still don’t know everything there is to know about autism. Right now, a person can be diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, which scales autism and related conditions under one big ol’ umbrella.
The autism spectrum records a series of disorders characterized by difficulty communicating and difficulty interacting with others. Back in the day, for most people, being autistic meant being like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man. Now, doctors, experts, and people on the spectrum themselves are redefining what it means to have an ASD .
While most people with autism are diagnosed in early childhood when language and socialization skills are developing, parents often notice that certain developmental markers aren’t being met and this leads them to an eventual diagnosis.
But just because you aren’t diagnosed as having autism as a child, that doesn’t mean you can never be diagnosed. Every family has that one odd-ball, and now, thanks to continued research in the field, we’re becoming more understanding of ASD and realizing that some people with these “quirks” may actually be somewhere on the spectrum.
If you have ever wondered “Am I autistic?” we’ve gathered 17 symptoms and signs of autism that could indicate you share behaviors with people commonly diagnosed.
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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
You Don’t Seem To Understand Feelings
A person on the autism spectrum can understand what emotions are in theory but have a hard time putting that knowledge to work in real time. This can lead to awkward or upsetting interactions.
Dr. Marsh says, “You have successfully learned to imitate and engage in ‘small talk’ through observation, but you find yourself unable to converse about anything personal, emotional, or in-depth.”
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Common Signs Of Autism
Some of the more common signs that may indicate a person has autism include:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Delayed speech and communication skills
- Reliance on rules and routines
- Being upset by relatively minor changes
- Unexpected reactions to sounds, tastes, sights, touch and smells
- Difficulty understanding other peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s emotions
- Focusing on or becoming obsessed by a narrow range of interests or objects
- Engaging in repetitive behavior such as flapping hands or rocking
- Children not responding to their name by 12 months
- Children not pointing at distant objects by 14 months
Worried you or someone you know might have some of the signs of autism? The Ada app can help you check symptoms. or find out more about how it works.
Are We All A Bit Autistic
Yes While we are still a long way from being able to diagnose autism with 100% certainty, according to the most recent medical manual the DSM-5 , to be diagnosed as autistic, people must meet criteria relating to two key areas deficits in social communicational ability and restrictive/repetitive behaviour patterns.
For these reasons, many have made the claim that we are all a bit autistic as, while not everyone has a hard time in social situations or has as burning a desire for routine as autists, most people do possess these qualities to a degree for example: being introverted, misjudging social protocol or, if youre my girlfriend, having an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Gilmore Girls.
No However, while it may be possible to say that someone is a little bit autistic because they demonstrate similar signals of the condition, a true diagnosis of autism is rooted in how these aspects impact on a persons life. For example, while you may get a bit shy out in public, someone who is autistic can feel a very real, very painful anxiety. While similarly, that hobby or interest which you spend so much time thinking about is, in all probability, just a way to unwind. For an autist its a lifeline something to make sense of an unpredictable world, as well as an obsession which gets lodged in our brain and calls out for us to devote all our time and energy to it.
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What Autistic People Have To Say
Through our Stories from the Spectrum series, weve spoken to several autistic people, who have shared their thoughts on this topic, what being autistic is like for them, and some of the positive aspects of being autistic.
I just seem to see and think about people and the world in a different way. Its part of who I am. John Clark
John Clark, autistic filmmaker, told us:I just seem to see and think about people and the world in a different way. For instance, I am both confused and fascinated by idioms. Its part of who I am. I used to be very self-conscious about people liking and accepting me, but now, I just think, take me or leave me. Were all different. Some people seem to find live and let live a difficult mantra to grasp though.
Patrick Samuel, autistic artist and musician, said: My autism makes it easy for me to do things a lot of non-autistic people may struggle with. I work intensely when Im painting, writing, composing or doing anything creative. I think being autistic also contributes to my aptitude in problem solving and pattern recognition, which can help me research a highly specialised subject and give talks on it.
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Is Everyone On The Autism Spectrum
Were all a little bit autistic, Everyone is on the spectrum, All of us have autism to a degree. The chances are that, if youve hung around the autism community long enough, youve likely heard someone make one of these statements that suggest that, while its all good and well paying researchers to monitor autism rates, the reality is that we were all autistic all along.
Of course, in reality, none of this is true, after all, if we were all a little bit autistic then why would autistic advocates need to fight for awareness? However, like all good myths, all of these phrases stem from cold hard fact which is why, today, I want to get to the root of these rumours as I ask the question Is everyone on the autism spectrum?
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How Common Is Autism
Autism is always present from birth, but it might not be recognised or diagnosed until adulthood. Early intervention, in the form of support for their individual needs, can be helpful for autistic children.
Even if you arent diagnosed until adulthood, getting a diagnosis can be very helpful for identifying your strengths and the things you struggle with, and finding support.
Autism Screening And Diagnosis
It can be hard to get a definite diagnosis of autism. Your doctor will focus on behavior and development.
For children, diagnosis usually takes two steps.
- A developmental screening will tell your doctor whether your child is on track with basic skills like learning, speaking, behavior, and moving. Experts suggest that children be screened for these developmental delays during their regular checkups at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months of age. Children are routinely checked specifically for autism at their 18-month and 24-month checkups.
- If your child shows signs of a problem on these screenings, theyâll need a more complete evaluation. This might include hearing and vision tests or genetic tests. Your doctor might want to bring in someone who specializes in autism disorders, like a developmental pediatrician or a child psychologist. Some psychologists can also give a test called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule .
If you werenât diagnosed with autism as a child but notice yourself showing signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Social And Communication Skills
Impairments in social skills present many challenges for individuals with ASD. Deficits in social skills may lead to problems with friendships, romantic relationships, daily living, and vocational success. One study that examined the outcomes of adults with ASD found that, compared to the general population, those with ASD were less likely to be married, but it is unclear whether this outcome was due to deficits in social skills or intellectual impairment, or some other reason.
Prior to 2013, deficits in social function and communication were considered two separate symptoms of autism. The current criteria for autism diagnosis require individuals to have deficits in three social skills: social-emotional reciprocity, nonverbal communication, and developing and sustaining relationships.
Some of the symptoms related to social reciprocity include:
- Lack of mutual sharing of interests: many children with autism prefer not to play or interact with others.
- Lack of awareness or understanding of other people’s thoughts or feelings: a child may get too close to peers without noticing that this makes them uncomfortable.
- Atypical behaviors for attention: a child may push a peer to gain attention before starting a conversation.
Symptoms related to relationships includes the following:
- Defects in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships.
- Difficulties adjusting behavior to fit social contexts.
Level : Requiring Substantial Support
People with ASD level 2 will have more obvious problems with verbal and social communication than those diagnosed with level 1. Likewise, they will find it harder to change focus. They might, for example, get very upset when they have to move from one activity to the next or to leave school at the end of the day.
Children with level 2 tend to have very narrow interests and engage in repetitive behaviors that can make it difficult for them to function in certain situations.
A person diagnosed with ASD level 2 tends to speak in simple sentences and also struggles with nonverbal forms of communication.
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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.
How Is Autism Diagnosed
Fortunately, the way autism is diagnosed has changed and improved over the last 80 years.
We now recognise a wider range of signs and characteristics as forming part of the autism spectrum.
As awareness increases, parents and professionals are getting better at identifying early signs of autism and are more likely to seek an autism assessment.
This explains why people think autism is more prevalent today than it was ten or twenty years ago.
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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
Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism is not a single disorder, but a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. Every individual on the autism spectrum has problems to some degree with social interaction, empathy, communication, and flexible behavior. But the level of disability and the combination of symptoms varies tremendously from person to person. In fact, two kids with the same diagnosis may look very different when it comes to their behaviors and abilities.
If youre a parent dealing with a child on the autism spectrum, you may hear many different terms including high-functioning autism, atypical autism, autism spectrum disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. These terms can be confusing, not only because there are so many, but because doctors, therapists, and other parents may use them in dissimilar ways.
But no matter what doctors, teachers, and other specialists call the autism spectrum disorder, its your childs unique needs that are truly important. No diagnostic label can tell you exactly what challenges your child will have. Finding treatment that addresses your childs needs, rather than focusing on what to call the problem, is the most helpful thing you can do. You dont need a diagnosis to start getting help for your childs symptoms.
Whats in a name?
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Level : Requiring Support
Level 1 ASD is the mildest, or the most “high-functioning,” form of autism. Children with level 1 ASD have a hard time communicating appropriately with others. For example, they may not say the right thing at the right time or be able to read social cues and body language.
A person with ASD level 1 usually is able to speak in full sentences and communicate, but has trouble engaging in back-and-forth conversation with others. They may try to make friends, but not be very successful.
They may also be inflexible in certain ways and have trouble moving from one activity to another. Additionally, they may have problems with organization and planning that prevent them from being as independent as expected for their age.