What Are The Common Medications Used To Treat The Symptoms Of Autism
Several medications have been tried or are being evaluated for the treatment of autism. No medication has consistently proven to be of benefit for either curing or comprehensively managing autism in closely controlled clinical trials.
In the past, a piece on a television news show prompted a great deal of interest in the hormone secretin as a treatment for autism. A child with autism with chronic gastrointestinal complaints showed dramatic improvement following some routine testing performed by a gastroenterologist during which a small dose of secretin was administered. The family and their physicians felt that the secretin may have resulted in the improvement in the symptoms of autism. Many physicians began prescribing secretin, which can be expensive. However, studies published appear to completely refute the claim that secretin treatment benefits autistic patients. This example underscores the importance of good clinical trials to determine whether a drug will help patients with autism before it is widely used.
What Common Sociobehavioral Interventions Treat Autism
There is only one treatment approach that has prevailed over time and is effective for all persons, with or without autism. That treatment model is an educational program that is suitable to a student’s developmental level of performance. One such program is the Son-Rise Program. For adults, that treatment model refers to a vocational program that is suitable to the individual’s developmental level of functioning.
Under the federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act Act of 1990, students with a handicap are guaranteed an “appropriate education” in the Least Restrictive Environment , which is generally considered to be as normal an educational setting as possible. As a result of this legislation, children with autism have often been placed in a mainstreamed classroom and pulled out for whatever supplementary services were needed. Depending on the child’s needs, he or she could be placed up to 100% of the school day in a mainstreamed or a special education setting or any combination of the two in order to receive the most appropriate help possible.
It is important to remember, despite some recent denials, that autism is usually a lifelong condition. The kind of support that is appropriate will change as the individual develops. Families must beware of treatment programs that give false hope of a cure. Acceptance of the condition in a family member is a very critical, foundational component of any treatment program and is understandably quite difficult.
Resources For Adults With Asd
- Autism Now;has resources and information for individuals with autism, other developmental disabilities, and their families. A national initiative of The Arc.
- Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit provides information about the transition to adulthood for individuals with ASD. In addition to the development of self-advocacy skills, the kit covers the topics of community life, housing, health, sexuality, internet safety, employment, and post-secondary educational opportunities.
- A Guide for Transition to Adulthood, which is part of the Life Journey Through Autism series by the Organization for Autism Research , is a comprehensive resource to aid in transition planning for individuals with ASD.
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Benefits Of Receiving A Diagnosis As An Adult
If an adult is questioning whether they have autism spectrum disorder, obtaining a professional diagnosis can create understanding for the individual regarding how they relate to the outside world. A diagnosis might also help the individual find their strengths, work on their weaknesses, and gain a new ability to understand and empathize with others.10
Having an autism spectrum diagnosis as an adult can also help the adult create a new perspective on their lives and childhood. Perhaps they had difficulty with social interactions and had trouble fitting in. A diagnosis can provide this person with an understanding of why they struggled in the ways they did and a resulting sense of relief. 10
What Is A Spectrum Disorder
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that people can experience a wide range of symptoms and of varying severities. For example, a person with autism who is towards the high functioning range of the spectrum will have a good grasp of language, but a person towards the low functioning range of the spectrum may not speak at all.
As such, it is important to note that a person with autism spectrum disorder will not display all symptoms and symptoms will vary in severity. However, a person with ASD will display several of these behaviors and signs.
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Asd A Public Health Concern
ASD was initially described as a rare disorder of childhood., However, the estimated prevalence rate of ASD has changed significantly over the past 40 years, perhaps in part because of increasing awareness of ASD and changes in diagnostic criteria and classification systems. In 1966, the prevalence of autism was estimated to be just four cases per 10,000 people. However, ASD is now recognized as a common, lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that affects ~1% of both the child and adult population.
The estimated prevalence of ASD is increasing, making it more common than several other better recognized conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Despite this, 80% of adults with ASD report marked difficulties in accessing diagnostic services. Furthermore, ASD is associated with significant financial and emotional costs to the individual, their families, and society across health, education, and social systems. The estimated lifetime cost of supporting a person with ASD is substantial: $2.4 million in the USA and £1.5 million in the UK. These costs include accommodation, individual productivity loss , and health, all of which may be contributed to by unman-aged mental health difficulties in adulthood. Additionally, preliminary evidence suggests that unmet needs arising from comorbid mental health problems in young adults with ASD contribute to caregiver burden.
Sexuality On The Autism Spectrum
Autistic adults have, in general, differences in sexuality from the norm. Many more are asexual than in the average population. It is believed that there is a slightly higher pecentage of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered autistics than in the average population.
Bisexual or homosexual Aspies may find more potential for sex and/or relationships in the gay community where there is less emphasis on conformity. Girls and women who are autistic can have more chance at success in relationships, generally speaking, than men. This is due to differences in social requirements, where a man is often expected to ask a girl for a date, rather than vice versa.
Living in a society where long-time relationships and starting a family are the norm it can be very hard for socially inexperienced men with Aspergers to find a partner and some stay away from dating for that reason.
Some of those on the autism spectrum are celibate by choice, feeling that they are asexual, or that there are more important things in life. Others have resigned themselves to celibacy due to the fact that romantic or sexual relationships can be much harder to find due to a misunderstanding of social skills and the difficulty of finding a suitable partner.
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Diagnosis Of Autism In Adults
There are currently no standard diagnostic criteria for adults with suspected ASD, but they are in development.
In the meantime, clinicians primarily diagnose adults with ASD through a series of in-person observations and interactions. They also take into consideration any symptoms the person reports experiencing.
If youre interested in being evaluated for ASD, begin with your family doctor, who will evaluate you to be certain that there isnt an underlying physical illness accounting for your behaviors. Your doctor may then refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for in-depth assessment.
The clinician will want to talk with you about any issues you have regarding communication, emotions, behavioral patterns, range of interests, and more. Youll answer questions about your childhood, and your clinician might request to speak with your parents or other older family members to gain their perspectives about your lifelong behavior patterns.
If the diagnostic criteria for children are being used for reference, your clinician can ask your parent questions from that list, relying on their memories of you as a child for further information.
If your clinician determines that you didnt display symptoms of ASD in childhood, but instead began experiencing symptoms as a teen or adult, you may be evaluated for other possible mental health or affective disorders.
Because most autism diagnoses are made in children, it could be a challenge to find a provider who will diagnose adults.
Tip : Better Organize Your Life
While many adults with ASD are extremely organized, others may become so fixated on certain interests that other aspects of their lives become disorganized. If this is a challenge you face, these tips can help you stay organized:
Use a timer to stay on track. This can be especially useful when youre working on a hobby that youre intensely passionate about. Once the timer goes off, you know its time to switch to an activity that is less intriguing, but nonetheless important, such as paying bills or grocery shopping.
Use a list or day planner. If remembering appointments and other responsibilities is a challenge, use a paper planner or an organizational app for your cell phone. You could also use anything from spreadsheets to a whiteboard to help you organize daily tasks.
Automate certain aspects of your life. For example, use online banking to track spending and automatic payment options to manage your bills. This can also help you avoid the clutter that tends to build up when you receive paper billing statements in the mail.
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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
Cdcs Work For Adults With Asd
Planning for Service Needs
CDCs most recent funding cycle for the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network;includes support for five sites to follow up on 16-year-olds who had been identified with ASD by 8 years of age. This is a new activity for the ADDM Network and will provide valuable information on transition planning in special education services and potential service needs after high school.
Promoting Better Outcomes
CDCs Study to Explore Early Development began identifying children with ASD in the mid-2000s and these children are now beginning the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Through SEED Teen, CDC is tracking the changes that occur during this transition period to learn about factors that may promote more successful transitions and better outcomes in young adults with ASD.
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Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder In Adults
Common symptoms of autism in adults include:
- Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
- Trouble interpreting facial expressions, body language, or social cues
- Difficulty regulating emotion
- Trouble keeping up a conversation
- Inflection that does not reflect feelings
- Difficulty maintaining the natural give-and-take of a conversation; prone to monologues on a favorite subject
- Tendency to engage in repetitive or routine behaviors
- Only participates in a restricted range of activities
- Strict consistency to daily routines; outbursts when changes occur
- Exhibiting strong, special interests
Autism spectrum disorder is typically a life-long condition, though early diagnosis and treatment can make a tremendous difference.
Do I Need An Autism Diagnosis
Some adults may question whether they need a diagnosis later in life. Some people self-identify as autistic without receiving an official diagnosis. Its a personal decision. What can be helpful in receiving the label is access to supports and services that may not be available without a diagnosis, i.e. an income support program that provides additional income if mental health issues prevent being able to work full time. Maybe you need a job coach, a support person to look in on you a couple of times a week, specialized mental health services, or supports in the workplace. A diagnosis can also provide peace of mind and validation that indeed, you do have ASD.
Self-diagnosis in the adult autism community is widely accepted. You can join a support group or get together with other ASD adults without a formal diagnosis. Pursuing a diagnosis can be expensive as most health plans wont cover the cost and it can be difficult to find a professional who is adept at providing an adult diagnosis.
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Living With Adult Autism Tip : Improve Communication And Relationships
If other people have a hard time reading and understanding youand you themyoull likely have difficulty with relationships. But you can still find ways to nurture a healthy social life.
Consider disclosing your diagnosis. Talking about your diagnosis can be difficult and the social stigma attached to ASD may make you shy away from doing so. While disclosure is entirely up to you and your comfort level, it may help improve some relationships. Letting close friends and family know about your diagnosis can help them understand why you have a hard time interpreting their sarcastic comments, for example, or why youre distressed by sounds that seem normal to everyone else.
Note when youre experiencing sensory overload. Perhaps you find it difficult to keep up with everything thats going on in an intense group conversation. Or maybe something as simple as loud traffic or a barking dog is bothering you. Do what you can to minimize distractions. This might involve switching rooms or leaving a larger group for a one-on-one chat.
Look for common ground with the person youre talking to. Establishing commonalities can lead to more relaxed and enjoyable conversations. If you have similar hobbies, thats, of course, great news. Otherwise, you can look for other things you both like or dislike. This could be anything from a shared interest in cars to a shared dislike for loud noises.
Support groups for adults with autism
Is There A Test For Asd In Adults
Clinicians have developed different tests that can help diagnose ASD in adults. These include diagnostic tests such as ADOS 2 Module 4, ADI-R, and 3Di Adult.
However, it is not clear how reliable these tests are for adults. The reasons for this include:
- Researchers who look at the reliability of ASD tests often use a small number of study participants.
- Not many research studies on testing for adult ASD include enough participants from historically underserved groups, such as People of Color or people who are LGBTQIA+. This means the results of studies looking at ASD testing methods may not represent a true population of autistic adults.
- Many clinicians may not be familiar with the signs of ASD in adulthood. This is especially true if the patientâs symptoms are not severe or if the patient also has other conditions, for example, anxiety.
Autistic people may have of co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety or depression, than those in the general population.
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What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Getting A Diagnosis
- Getting a professional diagnosis may help you to receive any appropriate funding, support and help you might need.
- Your family, friends and work colleagues may have a better understanding of you and your needs and it may allow them to support you more effectively.
- You may have a greater sense of self-identify if you understand yourself and the spectrum better.
- You may have a better understanding of your experiences as a child or adolescent.
- You may have increased confidence knowing you are part of a larger group of adults that may be like-minded.
Some adults find that by having a better understanding of the challenges associated with autism, they can use their strengths and develop strategies to support these.
Fast fact: Did you know that people on the spectrum commonly show character strengths such as loyalty, kindness, honesty and a lack of judgement?
Spouses Describe Their Marriages When Autism Is Involved
In a separate study, three psychologists sought to go beyond the numbers to see how parents felt about their experience, in their own words. They collected answers to open-ended questions from almost 500 parents in the United States and other English-speaking countries. Like many studies, mothers participated in far greater numbers than fathers. Their heartfelt answers affected the researchers: It was a rich and often painful experience reading their answers to the simple question, How has your child in the autism spectrum affected your life and your familys life?3
Many parents said caring for their child placed a huge strain on the marriage. Some said they didnt have time for their spouse; others said their husband was in denial about the autism diagnosis. A mom reported, My husband experiences cycles where he actually avoids us and our home. One parent seemed too harried to put thoughts into complete sentences, saying needs constant supervision, we do not have a normal life marriage is strained no time together as a couple, need respite care. Another said, We argue more, snap at each other more.3
Some parents said such problems led to divorce. Husband took off due to stress, one mother said. The incredible needs posed by this child cause my marriage to fail, said another parent.3
Autism does one of two things
See a companion article, Stress and the Autism Parent.
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