Have An Autism Assessment
An autism assessment is where a team of autism specialists check if you or your child are autistic.
An assessment team may:
- ask about any problems you or your child are having
- watch how you or your child interact with other people
- speak to people who know you or your child well, such as family, friends, your GP or your child’s teachers
At the end of the assessment, you’ll be given a report saying if you or your child are autistic.
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- The word autism refers to autism spectrum disorder , including Asperger syndrome.
- ASD can affect a persons ability to interact with the world around them and lead to repetitive behaviours or a narrow range of interests and activities.
- It can be hard to understand why people on the autism spectrum behave the way they do. Try to remember that the world can be a very confusing place for them and the best way to help is to be supportive and caring.
- Asperger Syndrome is now classified under the single umbrella term, ASD.
- There is no cure for ASD, but by getting advice early and working with your healthcare professional, you can give your child the best possible chance of fulfilling their potential
- Amaze is funded to help individuals on the autism spectrum, their families and carers who need information about Autism Spectrum Disorder and to understand what supports are available in Victoria. The Amaze InfoLine operates 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday 1300 308 699
Social Communication / Interaction Behaviors May Include:
- Making little or inconsistent eye contact
- Tending not to look at or listen to people
- Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing 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
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Autism Signs In Teens
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a vast spectrum, which has high-functioning and low-functioning levels. While children on the lower levels of function are easier to diagnose, children on the higher levels tend to make it through a lot of their life without ever getting a diagnosis. This is because high functioning people can be independent and learn behavioral, social, and communicative skills better. They may be able to fit in without any oddities in their behaviors being pointed out.
However, a time where the differences may come out is when they are 12-15 years old adolescents, going through one of the most difficult times in their lives. Fitting in and a sense of belonging is vital in these critical years, and if your teen has undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder, they may become frustrated when they cant understand why theyre different.
There are some noticeable autism signs you can keep an eye out for, but remember, your teenager doesnt have to experience every single one of these signs to be autistic. Its a spectrum, and everyones level varies.
In the behavioral field, autistic teenagers routines and habits might be extremely repetitive, or they prefer everything to be in a strict, orderly fashion. Teenagers with autism may be picky about textures in food, bedding, and clothing, or they may wear inappropriate clothing according to the weather Autistic teens could be accustomed to making irregular movements or noises without realizing it.
Physical Intellectual And Emotional Challenges
The teen years can be challenging for everyone they can be far more challenging, however, for young people with autismand their parents. As with most aspects of autism, the level of difficulty will vary radically depending on the individual on the spectrum, their family situation, their support system, and their school.
Fortunately, there are many ways parents can prepare for and ease the transition to teenagerhood. The teen years are also a great time to start preparing for adulthood.
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From Finding The Right Clinician To Diagnostic Tools And Parent Interviews There Are Many Steps
An autism diagnosis covers a spectrum of children with a wide range of skills and impairments. Because of this, the developmental disorder can look very different from child to child. Many experts who diagnose and treat children with autism like to say, If youve seen one child with autism, youve seen one child with autism.
The diversity of autism spectrum disorder can make it difficult to correctly diagnose. Sometimes autistic children are mistakenly diagnosed with a different disorder, like ADHD, or are told that nothing is wrong. Other times kids are diagnosed as autistic when they actually arent.
Thats why its important for parents to know what the components of an autism diagnosis should be: What kinds of information should a clinician whos evaluating your child be considering? How can you know whether your clinician is following best practices in doing an autism assessment?
How Teen Autism Is Diagnosed
While researchers say they can spot autism in brain scans, doctors don’t offer these tests to their patients. Instead, they use interviews and observations to determine if a child’s symptoms are caused by autism.
The interviews you conducted with friends and teachers will help your child’s doctor. Sometimes, doctors ask teachers and peers to fill out formal questionnaires of behavior, so they can get develop a well-rounded picture of how the child behaves throughout the day.
If your child’s pediatrician spots issues of concern, a referral to an expert is in order. During a series of appointments, your child will:
- Talk. The doctor will ask how they think, feel, and behave.
- Test. The doctor may use self-assessment quizzes to understand how your child’s mind works.
- Screen. The expert may suggest other tests to rule out an underlying health problem that could cause autism symptoms.
Doctors need time to come to an autism diagnosis. Typically, professionals require a few appointments to rule out underlying conditions. But for some teens, the wait is worthwhile.
In studies, teenagers with autism describe a feeling of freedom that came with their diagnosis. They have a deeper understanding of why they behave as they do, and they have a stronger sense of self-worth because of that knowledge. Rather than feeling unusual and strange, they feel empowered.
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Not Everything Is Your Fault
In one of my earliest posts, 50 important facts about having mild autism, I detailed the great number of things that are interpreted as Our Fault. Take a look at #7 to #10.
7) If you dont notice that a girl is interested in you, its Your Fault. Not theirs for not bothering to actually tell you.
8) If someone drops an extremely subtle hint and it goes over your head, its Your Fault. Not theirs for not bothering to actually tell you.
9) If you ask people whether they want the last potato and everyone says no, thats fine, its Your Fault if you take it. You should have read them correctly and interpreted their no as a yes. Because thats what normal people do, apparently.
10) We find it difficult to read people, and thats Our Fault. Meanwhile other people find us difficult to read, and thats Our Fault too.
So, allow me to show the difference between what is actually our fault and what is not.
It IS NOT your fault if people misunderstand you when youre trying to be nice.
It IS your fault if you choose to be deliberately nasty to people.
It IS NOT your fault if youre quiet around people because you are honestly uncomfortable with them.
It IS your fault if you dont talk to people because you cant be arsed.
It IS NOT your fault if you find other people difficult to like because theyve made you feel like the odd one out.
It IS your fault if you choose to hate other people just because theyre different to you.
Make sure you get the balance right!
What To Do While Youre Waiting For An Assessment
It can be a stressful time waiting for your childâs autism assessment. The good news is your child doesnât need a formal autism diagnosis to access support.
The NDISâs Early Childhood Early Intervention approach is available to all children aged under 7 who have been identified with a developmental delay or disability.
The first step is to meet with an NDIS Early Childhood Partner to discuss your childâs needs. They can give you information about the supports and services available in your local community, provide some short-term early intervention support where appropriate, and request access into the NDIS if this is required.
You could also attend an Early Days workshop. These are free workshops for parents and carers of young children with autism but are also suitable for parents whose children have not yet received a diagnosis.
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How Do You Talk With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis
It can be hard to decide what and how much information to share when talking to your child about their autism diagnosis. Setting a positive tone when discussing autism spectrum disorder and making sure you understand what your child is truly asking is very important. Establish a positive attitude about their differences from the outset, then answer their questions simply and honestly. If your child is of reading age, you may want to consider finding some childrens books on the topic of autism spectrum disorder to read with them.
Evaluation Based On Observation
Parents, family members or other caregivers of children on the autism spectrum are often the first to notice delays in the usual childhood developmental milestones such as speech, eye contact, play with other children or social interactions.
Sometimes autism goes unnoticed or undiagnosed in both children and adults, especially when symptoms are mild or when the person has other disabilities or health problems. In some cases, other medical conditions such as are present, making autism difficult to recognize. As a result, ASDs may go undetected for years and may only be diagnosed during an educational impasse or a life crisis which puts a person in contact with professionals able to recognize the disorder.
Medical professionals use the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to evaluate autism spectrum disorder and the related social communication disorder . ASDs are diagnosed based on a combination of specific behaviours, communication delays and/or developmental disabilities.
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Conducting An Adult Autism Evaluation
Because of these limitations, the evaluation of an adult has to lean heavily on direct observation. This will be in the context of a discussion between the clinician and the patient about current challenges in the areas of social interaction and communication, sensory issues and restricted interests or repetitive behaviors.
However, some higher functioning adults on the autism spectrum become very resourceful in developing strategies to compensate for their disabilities. Clearly, this makes a diagnosis based on observation much more difficult.
But diagnosis remains important even when for those who have learned to hide their symptoms because they may still struggle in their everyday lives and interactions.
In these cases, its important to explore the lifelong presence of related developmental issues. In particular, its critical to get detailed information about early childhood. Sometimes this clearly reveals an early development that fits with a diagnosis of ASD.
While our diagnostic checklists are designed for children, I find that they can be useful as we explore an adults childhood development. In particular, I sometimes interview older relatives such as parents who can recall the patients early childhood in some detail. Often they can answer questions from diagnostic checklists and, so, inform a possible diagnosis. Clearly, this is not possible when there isnt an older relative available for a reliable report.
What To Expect From Our Autism Quiz For Teens
The below quiz is a simplified test of autism behaviors for teens in the age group of 12 to 15 years old. This teen autism test is in no way a professional diagnosis, simply an indication of whether you should book a consultation or not for professional opinions. These are all possible signs you can detect in your 12-15 years old teenager, though they might not have all of these. If you want a professional diagnosis for your teen, then youll have to visit psychologists or psychiatrists.
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If You Have The Choice Between Being Normal And Being Happy Choose To Be Happy
The most depressing years of my life were my early adulthood years- just before I discovered I was autistic. Up until then, I went to so much effort trying to look normal. And I lost such a huge part of myself. There were even people in my family telling me they didnt recognise me anymore. It was horrible.
As a friend once told me , if you wear a mask for too long your face changes to fit it. If you spend too long pretending to be someone else, one day youll wake up and find that the real you has vanished- and the someone else is all thats left.
You dont want to waste time being normal. Youre already normal in your own way, and everyone else is weird.
Be yourself is common advice, and its common for a reason.
High School Students With Autism
The teenage years can be a difficult time for those on the autism spectrum and their families. Like any teenager, they may have to deal with issues including sexuality, bullying, anxiety, depression and other emotional problems.
It can be hard to know when to start talking about puberty and how to explain some of the changes they are going through. Be as open and as honest as you can and let them know you are there for them all the time, even if they do not want to talk. Visit the Family Planning Victoria website for useful information on sexuality and people with a disability.
Some teenagers on the autism spectrum may be teased and bullied. Find more information on how to support your teenager on the autism spectrum on the Amaze website.
Approaching the time to leave school may result in a high level of anxiety for a young person on the autism spectrum and their family as they determine their next steps. There are a number of resources and supports that may be of assistance.
The Department of Education and Training’s Strengthened Pathways Planning for young people with disabilities – Parent Information provides guidance for parents on careers and transition planning for young people with disabilities. Links to relevant information, resources and services are included.
The document can be found at the Department’s website.
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Autism In The Teen Years: What To Expect How To Help
What parent doesn’t watch their “tween” become a teen without a twinge of anxiety? Factor autism into the equation, and parents may well wonder how the physical and hormonal changes of adolescence will affect their child on the spectrum.
How will typical teenage rebellion look in someone who struggles with behavioral control? What will it be like traversing the social minefield of high school for someone with a social disability?
Many a teen boy has had to be convinced of the need for daily showers and shaving. How do you convince someone who has sensory problems to stand under water or drag a sharp razor across his face?
Autism First Signs And Checklist For Teenagers
Being a teenager can be hard work at the best of times. Fitting in can suddenly become very important, and trying to negotiate the nuances of social networking can be tiring! Add a bunch of hormones, quick growth and the increased academic demands, and it can be a testing time.
For the teenager who might be on the autism spectrum, adolescence can be a particularly challenging time.
If they havent yet been diagnosed, and dont understand that the way they process the world around them could be part of being on the spectrum, they may feel isolated and confused.
Parents may suddenly find their child withdrawing, or be quick to temper, or easily distressed, anxious or confused.
But much of this could just be typical teenage behaviour? Knowing some of the signs of autism in teenagers can be the first step in working out if their behaviour is related to their stage of life, or whether they might be on the spectrum.
Causes And Risk Factors
While scientists dont know the exact causes of ASD, research suggests that genes can act together with influences from the environment to affect development in ways that lead to ASD. Although scientists are still trying to understand why some people develop ASD and others dont, some risk factors include:
- Having a sibling with ASD
- Having older parents
- Having certain genetic conditionspeople with conditions such as Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and Rett syndrome are more likely than others to have ASD
- Very low birth weight
Health Professionals Your Child May See During The Assessment Process
- Paediatrician â a medical doctor with special training and skills in children and their diseases. A developmental paediatrician specialises in child development and behaviour.
- Child and adolescent psychiatrist â a medical doctor with special training in treating children and teenagers with mental illness.
- Psychologists â an allied health professional trained to assess and treat mental health and behavioural problems.
- Speech pathologist â an allied health professional who assesses and treats speech, language and communication disorders.
- Occupational therapist â an allied health professional trained to assess and support people with physical, sensory, or cognitive problems and help them regain their independence.
- Social worker â An allied health professional trained to assist people and families manage difficulties. This could be through a combination of counselling and practical support.
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