Whether or not you are acquainted with autism, it’s very possible that you know or have come into contact with someone who manages this disorder. When people think of autism, they frequently envision a person who is unable to communicate or take care of themselves. Of course, that is one presentation of autism, but a lesser-known aspect of the condition is that it has a very diverse range of symptoms and traits; hence the word “spectrum” in the title.
Your child’s doctor is monitoring your child’s cognitive progress for any indications of severe delay. Therefore, delays in walking, speech, and other developmental skills may be indicators of autism. High-functioning autistic children, however, have a higher risk of falling through the gaps because their symptoms might not be as apparent. In fact, high-functioning autism is one of the more difficult disorders to assess.
What is High Functioning Autism ( HFA)?
People with high-functioning autism are often able to function far more independently than those with more severe autism. They too have challenges with social communication, but typically have strong language skills. They might struggle with being rigid or inflexible and have difficulty with transitioning between activities. Likewise, they may struggle with the nuances of relationships and human interaction.
While people with HFA are considered high-functioning, difficulties with social communication and restrictive or repetitive behaviors can cause significant interference in day-to-day functioning.
By definition, people with HFA still require support. Without supports in place, people with level 1 autism can have noticeable impairments and problems with organization and planning can hamper their ability to be self-sufficient.
What is Autism?
According to the National Institute of Health, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave.
Who can get Autism?
People of all genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds can be diagnosed with ASD. According to research, a person’s genes and environmental factors may interact to influence growth in ways that cause ASD. Also, having an ASD sibling and having older parents are two things that are linked to a higher risk of getting ASD. Another factor would be having a very low birth weight and also having certain inherited disorders (like Down syndrome or Fragile X syndrome) can be a factor in higher risk with ASD. However, these risk factors do not always result in ASD development. Although ASD is a lifelong disorder, treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and daily functioning. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive screening for autism at a younger age. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.
What are the signs for ASD?
The list that follows provides some illustrations of typical behavior patterns in ASD diagnoses. Although not all individuals with ASD will exhibit all of the traits mentioned below, they all will manage some.
Typical social contact and dialogue patterns include:
- Making little or inconsistent eye contact
- Appearing not to look at or listen to others who are speaking
- Rarely expressing interest in, emotion for, or enjoyment in things or activities (including rarely pointing at or demonstrating things to others)
- Not responding quickly to requests for attention
- Having trouble keeping up with back and forth in conversation, and frequently talking for an extended period of time about a favorite topic without anyone noticing
- Using facial expressions, motions, and movements that are inconsistent with what is being said.
- Using an unusual vocal tone that may sound sing-song or robotic.
- Having difficulty comprehending another person’s point of view or being unable to anticipate or comprehend other people’s actions
- Having trouble changing behavior to fit various social circumstances
- Having trouble participating in imaginative play or forming friends
- Restrictive or repetitive behaviors can include: Repeating certain behaviors or having unusual behaviors, such as repeating words or phrases (a behavior known as echolalia)
- Having a persistent, intense interest in certain subjects, like numbers, details, or facts
- Displaying excessively focused interests, like with moving objects or with parts of objects
- Becoming upset by slight changes in a routine and having difficulty with transitions
- Having trouble with changes and getting agitated by small changes in routine
- Sensitivity to sensory input, such as light, music, clothing, or temperature, varying from that of others.
How is ASD diagnosed?
By examining a person’s brain functioning, behavior and development, psychologists can determine if they have ASD. The diagnostic assessment is likely to include the following:
- Medical and neurological examinations
- Assessment of the child’s cognitive abilities
- Assessment of the child’s speech and language abilities
- Observation of the child’s behavior
- A detailed discussion with the child’s caregivers about the child’s behavior and development
- Assessment of age-appropriate skills needed to complete daily activities independently, such as eating, dressing, and using the restroom
- Questions regarding the child’s social and emotional development
What are the treatment options for ASD?
After verification, ASD treatment should start as soon as feasible. Early ASD therapy is crucial because the right care and services can lessen individuals’ challenges while assisting them in developing new skills and leveraging their strengths.There is no one best treatment for ASD because individuals with the disorder may experience a broad variety of problems. Finding the ideal mix of therapies and services requires close collaboration with my team and I. The options for treatment could vary from medication to Behavioral, Psychological, and Educational Interventions.
Where can I find resources?
For more information about ASD, visit:
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/autism
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Autism-Spectrum-DisorderInformation-Page
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/autism-spectrum-disorder-communicationproblems-children
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/autism
- Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee https://iacc.hhs.gov
- For newly diagnosed ASD families this is also a great resource
As well as I am here anytime to help you through this scary and complicated time while navigating through”the system” on finding the right help for your child.
In conclusion, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the many developmental disorders that have a significant impact on both children and adults. Early intervention will help your child and you with the challenges that come with this condition. Call today if you are concerned about your child having ASD, or your pediatrician has recommended talking to a psychologist for further testing and we can get started on testing right away. Don’t hesitate, every minute is important.