What Is It Like To Be Autistic
In case you are wondering if your child may have autism, the following most common signs of autism could be a good signal. Typically children diagnosed with autism spectrum are:
- Likely to be oversensitive by sight, sounds, and smell and touching which are normal for everyone else
- Likely to exhibit repetitive body movements, like rocking to & fro and making unusual finger movements in front of his/her eyes
- Likely to display strong attachments to certain objects around them
- Likely to get confused by changes in daily routines, often resorting to aggressive behavior
- Likely to observe even small changes in the people or their surroundings
Autistic People May Act In A Different Way To Other People
Autistic people may:
- find it hard to communicate and interact with other people
- find it hard to understand how other people think or feel
- find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable
- get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events
- take longer to understand information
- do or think the same things over and over
If you think you or your child may be autistic, get advice about the signs of autism.
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Many individuals who have expressive communication limitations also have difficulty understanding how communication works. Because of this, they may not be interested in trying to communicate with others. Even if these individuals can speak some words, they may not use verbal words in meaningful communication exchanges with others.
A big challenge in teaching independent expressive communication to some students is finding a way to motivate them to participate and learn. You must introduce and teach picture communication in a fun and motivating way for the student to want to participate in the session and to learn structured expressive communication skills. To make the communicative messages more understandable it can be beneficial to use matching picture symbols that exactly represent the activity.
Communicating with pictures and identifying symbolic representations may be difficult for some individuals. An experienced Speech Language Pathologist can lend needed guidance to those trying to implement picture communication. We offer instructional materials that may be beneficial to trained team members. Always keep in mind the students abilities and goals before using these or any related learning materials.
Advantages of Picture Communication
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The Thing About Echolalia
Echolalia is another form of borderline autism. What is Echolalia Autism? It is another form of Autism which is very similar in nature to borderline autism but with one differentiating factor Speech. Echolalia Autism is a rhythmic way of mimicking the cadence and tones of our language. Children with Echolalia Autism often mimic and repeat phrases to entire sentences. This is called gestalt which means whole. Learning a language the gestalt way would be like learning a language in chunks, just like a parrot. For example, such children know who mommy is by the repetition of the word mommy whenever she is involved in anything. Echolalia Autism is often observed when the toddler is about two and a half years old.
Many children with this form of autism can echo or mimic what is being said by associating a predefined sequence of words to repetitive actions. Some even lead to use the same voice inflections as the person that spoke the word or phrase. If a child stays with this echolalia type of speech it could indicate that the growth in communication skills of an autistic child may have stagnated at a particular level. Reassessment and a new therapy plan would be needed at this time to move the child along to future levels.
How Autism Is Diagnosed
There is no known biological marker for autism. That means that no blood or genetic test can diagnose the disorder. Instead, clinicians rely on observation, medical histories, and questionnaires to determine whether an individual has autism.
Physicians and specialists may use one or several of the following screening tools:
- Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised , a 20-question test designed for toddlers between 16 and 30 months old.
- The Ages and Stages Questionnaire , a general developmental screening tool with sections targeting specific ages used to identify any developmental challenges a child may have.
- Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children , an interactive screening tool, comprising 12 activities that assess play, communication, and imitation.
- Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status is a general developmental parent-interview form that identifies areas of concern by asking parents questions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages autism screening for all children at their 18 and 24-month well-child checkups. Parents and caregivers can also ask their pediatrician for an autism screening if they have concerns. In rare cases, individuals with autism reach adulthood before receiving a diagnosis. However, most individuals receive an autism diagnosis before the age of 8.
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What Challenges Are Associated With Autism
Autism is often linked with physical, developmental or mental health conditions such as intellectual disability, epilepsy, gastro-intestinal issues, ADHD, dyspraxia, anxiety or depression.
However, many of the disabling challenges associated with autism come about when individuals dont have the respect, understanding and supports that allow them to be comfortable in a non-autistic world.
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
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Signs And Symptoms Of Asd
People with ASD have difficulty with social communication and interaction, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors. The list below gives some examples of the types of behaviors that are seen in people diagnosed with ASD. Not all people with ASD will show all behaviors, but most will show several.
The Train Analogy: Understanding How We See The World
Imagine what it would be like if you were to be picked up suddenly and dropped into the middle of a packed rush hour subway in downtown Tokyo.
To begin with, you are overwhelmed by the number of people in your personal space the subway is so packed that you literally cannot move. Lots of people are talking to each other at once, to the point that you can barely hear yourself think. One person standing next to you may wear very strong perfume. Another person may have bad breath from forgetting to brush their teeth. The environment around the subway makes you extremely uncomfortable on a sensory level and you cannot wait to get off and out into the city.
The subway arrives and everyone disembarks. Every other person begins to walk in the direction they need to go in. But you find the signs around the station very confusing and you dont know how to leave the station. Doing the logical thing, you approach another passenger to ask for directions. You cant tell from his body language or facial expression whether he is happy to help or annoyed to be stopped. He is speaking very quickly in Japanese and is using local expressions you know nothing about you cannot follow his instructions as you are unsure about what he is saying to you.
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Talking About Your Child With Autism
Just a kid.
Say hi. Dont just ignore a child with autism, even if they are nonverbal, or dont reciprocate. It may take many more times before they learn to reciprocate. Using social greetings appropriately and at the right time is a skill set, and it may take them longer to gain those skills. Try not to give up too soon.
Talk to them. It may be more difficult to process information, and short and simple phrasing may be better, but continue to make the effort to talk to a child with autism so that they hear and see language in action.
Talk with your hands. Some children who struggle with verbal communication use formal sign language to bridge the gap while they are learning to talk. But beyond that, and for all individuals with and without autism, visual supports and gestures can be used help to clarify verbal information. We all use our hands to gesture when we give directions or describe something, to support our words, and these additional visual cues can help.
Use correct grammar. A child with autism who struggles with language still benefits from hearing many models of correct grammar and language sequencing. In fact, some may demonstrate relative strengths in imitation of your phrases and sentences, and so it is best if they are simple but intact grammatical utterances.
What Does The Train Analogy Have To Do With Autism
Firstly its important to acknowledge in this scenario you arent less capable than the other passengers on the train, just different. Day to day activities such as sitting in classroom or commuting may be just as big a culture shock for an autistic person.
Different cultures can be stressful but most of us still like to experience them. Autistic people want to do the same things as other people, but being met halfway can make the difference between being part of the community and being cut off.
Fundamentally, being autistic is like living in a world that is not built for you, and the earlier example helps us highlight some fundamental realities of the condition, namely differences in sensory processing, communication, reading social situations and managing anxiety and stressful situations.
How Is Autism Diagnosed
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.
Are Siblings At Greater Risk For Autism Spectrum Disorder
The truth is that genetics do play a role in autism. When one child is diagnosed with ASD, the next child to come along has about a 20% greater risk of developing autism than normal. When the first two children in a family have both been diagnosed with ASD, the third child has about a 32% greater risk of developing ASD.
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Characteristics Of Autistic Children
Newsom has described six frequently observed characteristics of children with autism.
Majority of case studies have revealed that children with autism have
- onset before 30 months of age
- normal physical development
How Autism Spectrum Disorders Are Described
Psychiatrists and other clinicians rely on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to define autism and its symptoms. The DSM-5 definition recognizes two main symptom areas:
- Deficits in social communication and interaction
- Restricted, repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities
These symptoms appear early in a childs developmentalthough diagnosis may occur later. Autism is diagnosed when symptoms cause developmental challenges that are not better explained by other conditions.
The definition of autism has been refined over the years. Between 1995 and 2011, the DSM-IV grouped Aspergers Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified with autism. Aspergers syndrome was an autism spectrum disorder marked by strong verbal language skills and, often, high intellectual ability. PDD-NOS was a more general diagnosis for people who did not fit clearly into the other two categories.
However, the DSM-5 no longer recognizes Aspergers syndrome or PDD-NOS as separate diagnoses. Individuals who would previously have received either of these diagnoses may now receive a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder instead.
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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.
Challenges Parents Face While Understanding Autism
The medical definition of autism is quite technical. That is perhaps why parents and family members strive to have a doctor or therapist who could easily explain what is autism in simple terms. Technically, autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder which includes impairments in social, developmental and communicative skills combined with rigid and/or repetitive behaviors. Autism covers such a large spectrum of skills and impairments, which can sometimes lead to varying degrees of disabilities, thus requiring institutional care.
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What Are The Types Of Autism Spectrum Disorders
These types were once thought to be separate conditions. Now, they fall under the range of autism spectrum disorders including:
- Asperger’s syndrome. These children don’t have a problem with language in fact, they tend to score in the average or above-average range on intelligence tests. But they have social problems and a narrow scope of interests.
- Autistic disorder. This is what most people think of when they hear the word “autism.” It refers to problems with social interactions, communication, and play in children younger than 3 years.
- Childhood disintegrative disorder. These children have typical development for at least 2 years and then lose some or most of their communication and social skills.
- Pervasive developmental disorder . Your doctor might use this term if your child has some autistic behavior, like delays in social and communications skills, but doesnât fit into another category.
Medical Definition Of Autism
- Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Reviewed on 3/29/2021
Autism: A spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, and unusual and repetitive behavior. Some, but not all, people with autism are non-verbal.
Autism is normally diagnosed before age six and may be diagnosed in infancy in some cases. The degree of autism varies from mild to severe in different children. Severely afflicted patients can appear profoundly retarded.
The cause of autism are not yet fully understood. However, it is believed that at least some cases involve an inherited or acquired genetic defect. Researchers have proposed that the immune-system, metabolic, and environmental factors may play an important part as well. It is not caused by emotional trauma, as was once theorized.
Autism or autistic-like behavior may co-occur with many other neurological conditions.
The optimal treatment of autism involves an educational program that is suited to the child’s developmental level.
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Highly Focused Interests Or Hobbies
Many autistic people have intense and highly focused interests, often from a fairly young age. These can change over time or be lifelong. Autistic people can become experts in their special interests and often like to share their knowledge. A stereotypical example is trains but that is one of many. Greta Thunberg’s intense interest, for example, is protecting the environment.
Like all people, autistic people gain huge amounts of pleasure from pursuing their interests and see them as fundamental to their wellbeing and happiness.
Being highly focused helps many autistic people do well academically and in the workplace but they can also become so engrossed in particular topics or activities that they neglect other aspects of their lives.