Did you know that the composer Amadeus Mozart, the physicist Albert Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton all were on the spectrum? This just goes to show the level of variance that exists across the autism spectrum disorder. This blog presents a general breakdown of Autism from multiple professional perspectives. The video attached provides perspectives from a seasoned Board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), Occupational therapist (OT), Speech-language pathologist (SLP), and the Founder of STEPS Behavioral Health. All of these professionals work with individuals with special needs in different capacities. This blog will discuss ways that different service providers work with people on the spectrum, various perspectives of autism, and facts about ASD. If you would like more information the link to the website is below.
Section 1: “Perspectives of autism”
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and the presence of restricted interests and repetitive behaviors” (Hodges, Fealko & Soares). Individuals diagnosed with ASD are often diagnosed with dual diagnosis. Other developmental disabilities includes; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and motor disorders. Compared to the aforementioned neurological disorders, ASD affects individuals in different domains. Some of these include; social interactions, communication, motor skills, restrictive movements, hyper-focused interests, and the use of interfering behaviors as a method of communication. Here are some ways that these domains may impact individuals with autism:
- Repetitive language
- Difficulty starting conversations
- Delay in learning to communicate verbally”
“Independent living skills
- Possible inability to handle shifts in routine
- Possible delays in both gross and fine motor skills
- Stimming behavior that ‘appears’ to have little purpose”
Section 2: “Characteristics of autism”
As a parent, you could potentially see signs of autistic behavior as early as 6 months old. According to the CDC (2022), some but not all of the early signs of autism include;
- “Social communication and interaction skills
- Avoids or does not keep eye contact
- Does not respond to name by 9 months of age
- Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
- Does not point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age
- Does not notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age
- Does not notice other children and join them in play by 36 months of age”
- “Restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests
- Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when the order is changed
- Repeats words or phrases over and over (called echolalia)
- They play with toys the same way every time
- Gets upset by minor changes
- Has obsessive interests
- Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles”
It is critical to remember that autistic individuals are people. Although they are living with this disorder they are people. Like most people, autism looks different in each of them. No one diagnosis is the same, and the characteristics that are manifested are individualized to each person and their lifestyle. So just as we treat everyone with love but understand everyone for their individual identity, we should do the same with people who have autism as well!
Section 3: “What professionals can work with your child with autism?”
We have all heard the quote, “It takes a village to raise a child.” For those of you who have not, this quote expresses the importance of having a community of supporters dedicated to your growth and development. This type of support is needed for individuals and families impacted by ASD. As you continue to read, you will learn about the impact that healthcare professionals have on the long-term growth and development of individuals with this diagnosis. We will also give you a few professionals who could be detrimental to your child’s long-term growth.
There are many factors that may influence a parent’s decision to seek services. Areas such as shaping behavior, facilitating speech, and improving social and motor skills may contribute to their decision. Although some families could make this decision with ease, others may factor in their child’s clinical needs, their tolerance for services, and the child’s or parents’ schedule and availability. Depending on the current situation a parent may decide it’s best for their child to pursue a mix of ABA therapy, to decrease interfering behaviors, and Speech therapy, to improve verbal articulation. Another family may decide they don’t need ABA but they would like Occupational therapy, to work on motor strength, and feeding therapy, to increase the child’s eating repertoire. These decisions could be made based on a mix of clinical needs, the child’s tolerance level, already being involved in too many activities, or simply the parent(s) schedule and availability.
This list includes;
- Applied behavior analysis
- Through the use of the science of behavior, ABA is used to increase and/or decrease behaviors that interfere with a child’s development and learning.
- Occupational therapy (OT)
- Occupational therapists work to improve a child’s ability to function within their environment. This could include fine motor skills, play skills, sensory integration skills, independent living skills, etc.
- Speech therapy or speech-language pathology (SLP)
- Speech therapy works to improve a child’s overall ability to communicate and understand communication. This includes working on verbal articulation skills, eye contact, nonverbal communication skills, etc.
- Feeding therapy
- Feeding therapists work to expand a child’s eating repertoire by building strength and slowly introducing new foods into their diet.
- Physical therapy
- They work on hyper-focused exercises to improve and expand motor skills, muscle strength, and coordination.
- Individualized education plan team (IEP)
- This multidisciplinary team builds an individualized plan for the child to ensure they are in an appropriate environment for learning and development.
The big point is the support system created, ideally, should be based on what your child developmentally needs. And let’s say you don’t know what they need. That is ok! All of us need contributions from a village and that’s even more reason to build your child a support system or a team that can do the things that you can’t. The best place to start is just to make a phone call and schedule an initial assessment.
If you are interested in learning more about autism you should view our social media channels!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, March 28). Signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html
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What is Autism video