Help your autistic child with day to day life
How to help your child with day to day life? Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have issues with daily living skills to different…
There are no medical tests such as blood work and brain scan to determine ASD. A medical diagnosis can be made by a psychologist, developmental pediatrician, or other specialized physician based on an assessment of symptoms and diagnostic tests.
Autism is not an illness. Instead, it is a diagnosis that an individual’s brain works in a way different than most people. It is something you’re born with and not the individual’s fault or the consequence of something they did. Since it is not an illness, it has no “cure.” Some autistic people require little to no support at all. However, some things can be done to support an individual diagnosed as autistic if they need help.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS or PDD for short).
To be diagnosed, the individual must exhibit difficulties in two areas that severely impact everyday life: social communication and interaction (poor social-emotional relations and reciprocity) and restricted, repetitive behaviour patterns.
Examples of social communication and interaction issues related to ASD include deficits in empathy, speech, body language, facial expression and eye contact, difficulties in social interactions, and making friends. For a child, this can be noticed as the child:
Repetitive behaviour patterns indicative of ASD include an insistence on rigid routines and certain places, fixation on specific topics, sensory hyper- and hypo- sensitivities such as sensitivity to noise or light, and high pain threshold. Specifically, these behaviours can be exhibited as the child:
rocks body, or spins self in circles
Other symptoms which accompany autism include
Some people might experience these symptoms without ASD. Although, these difficulties make life very challenging for people with ASD.
Despite all these symptoms, autistic people can live a full life. Like everyone, they have things they’re good at as well as things they struggle with. Some people on the autistic spectrum have better aptitude in specific areas like mathematics and music than the average person.
It’s not clear what causes autism or if it has a cause. Vaccines, bad parenting, diet, or infection are not known to be the cause of autism. Also, autism cannot spread from person to person.
The signs and symptoms of ASD can be identified through early surveillance and screening. Surveillance is an ongoing process of observing a child’s skills and abilities while interacting with parents, caregivers, and peers. This helps parents and providers identify when there might be a concern and if more screening is needed.
Screening happens when a parent or provider completes a checklist specifically designed to identify problems that need further evaluation. In addition to general developmental screening, autism-specific screening should occur at the 18-, 24- and 30-month visits and whenever a concern is expressed.
The following are some of the helpful screening tools that might be useful in helping you identify ASD symptoms in you or your child:
Note that you do not need to use all these tools for the screening. These screening tools are guides and do not provide conclusive evidence of developmental delays nor result in diagnoses. They are rather tools to help you determine if a further thorough assessment is needed.
If your child or someone around you is showing signs of autism, you need to talk to an expert about it. You may want to speak to a health professional first and ask them for references to autism specialists they know and trust.
People you could speak to include:
Only an autism specialist should conduct an autism assessment. Once a health professional has referred you, you may have to wait for a few months to get an appointment.
To prepare for the assessment, kindly note the following.
An autism assessment is a process where a team of autism specialists examines you or your child for autism.
Once you get a reference for an assessment team, book an appointment for your initial visit. The assessment team will inform you of the things you need to do to prepare for the assessment. This may include filling questionnaires, getting reports from the school or workplace, talking to friends and peers, etc. The autism assessment will happen over one or more appointments with a team of various professionals. The assessment may also take place over several months.
In case your child or yourself needs support at home, school, or work, you can start looking for the needed assistance while you wait for the assessment. You can:
During an autism assessment, the assessment team will speak with you and your family to find out about the different aspects of your life, so they can know you better. They will ask different questions.
The questions or conversation that will take place with the assessment team for children would be different from that of the adult.
During the autism assessment for children, the assessment team will:
During the autism assessment for adults, the assessment team will:
The assessment result can be given to you by the team physically, by post, or online.
The report of the assessment will tell you:
Diagnosis of ASD in both adults and young people can be contradictory and complex, even among professionals. It is therefore not strange if you disagree with the result given to you.
The following factors have been found to correlate with greater differences between results and family opinion:
The report may say:
Find out reasons for the diagnosis the assessment team gave.
If you still doubt the diagnosis, you can request that the GP refer you to another assessment team for a second opinion.
Autism is not a disease, but its diagnosis can help those affected get the help they need. Early diagnosis goes a long way in the management of the disorder. Autism diagnosis involves many specialists, professionals, and tests. People waiting for a diagnosis can start some therapies.