Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects millions of children, adults, and families every year – a direct result of an increase in diagnosis, its accuracy, and overall clinical findings and awareness of autism. But despite all the challenges it may bring to those with autism, the world is continually becoming a better place for them to thrive.
To best help our loved ones affected by autism, we must have an understanding of autism that fosters their success. We’ve put together a brief guide on the basic definition of autism, how it can affect your child, and what your family should know going forward after a diagnosis.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability diagnosed in children as early as 18 months old. It typically contributes to social, behavioral, and neurological challenges and doesn’t normally affect physical features.
As the name implies, there is a wide degree of diagnosis and severity for ASD. Some people need significant help in their daily lives due to their specific challenges, while others may only require minimal support.
In most cases, living with autism and treating it best is a matter of early diagnosis and intervention along with developing a plan specific to your loved one’s unique context of diagnosis and living situation.
Luckily, the research and science behind autism treatment have become much more structured and advanced in recent decades. This allows for a better understanding of how to treat autism and will enable people to understand better and act more compassionately towards those who have it.
What are Signs of Autism in Children?
While each child with autism is unique, some signs and symptoms are typical among them, including:
- Avoiding eye contact with other people
- Reclusive behavior or wanting to be alone
- Appearing aloof or not showing interest in objects and other people
- Having trouble understanding other peoples’ feelings
- Difficulty in communicating vocally or delay in verbal development
- Having unusual reactions to sensory stimuli such as sounds or smells
- Not liking or avoiding physical touch
- Having difficulty expressing needs and emotions on a consistent basis
These are just some of the many ways in which autism can present in children. Because these signs and symptoms typically develop between 18-36 months, they are often overlooked as mild developmental delays.
How is Autism Diagnosed?
There is no single defined medical test for diagnosis of ASD, so the process typically takes multiple steps. In order to diagnose ASD, you must first go to a pediatrician or other medical doctor and present them with a documented description of your child’s observable behaviors. From there, the medical professional will refer you to a diagnostician for further evaluation if necessary. The initial testing or screening might not yield a definite result, and the clinic may continue with developmental monitoring or screening of your child. Often, a comprehensive developmental evaluation will be the last step before an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.
Once an ASD diagnosis is received, your child will most likely be referred for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. It is important to get an ABA therapy framework in place with a reputable clinic to begin your child’s treatment right away. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will look at your child’s developmental history and perform assessments to help develop an individualized treatment program.
How is Autism in Children Treated?
ASD in children needs to be treated as early as possible. Early intervention has been proven to be one of the most important elements of long-term success in the treatment of autism. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy is considered the modern gold-standard for treating autism. We recommend contacting an ABA provider near you as soon as you believe your child is in need of treatment.
ABA itself is an evidence-based treatment that relies on the science of learning and behavior. The goal is to track key metrics related to your child’s behavioral needs and use them to create a treatment framework that will effectively support your child. This framework will be unique to your child’s needs and environments, and should aim to improve their everyday life skills. This is often accomplished through positive reinforcement by rewarding correct behaviors and establishing the value of ignoring and disincentivizing problem behaviors.
Over the last few decades, ABA therapy has become more and more prevalent as its effect has been clinically proven to provide long-term success for patients.
Learn More About Autism from the Experts at Ally Pediatric
At Ally Pediatric Therapy, our goal is to help children with autism and their families enjoy life to the fullest. We have an experienced team of licensed clinicians who work to promote understanding about autism and provide the best ABA therapy if necessary. If you’re looking to learn more about autism, get a proper diagnosis, or explore ABA treatment options, please reach out today. One conversation could make a world of difference for your child and your family.