As they grow, Children reach “developmental milestones” in how they play, learn, speak, act, and move (crawling, walking, etc.)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause delayed or missed milestones. Although the reasons of these brain structure/function abnormalities are unknown, scientists have found genetic links passed down from parents.
In order to be diagnosed with Autism, you must meet all 3 criteria:
Deficit in Social Skills
- Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, such as reduced sharing of interests, emotions, and/or affect with others, failure to initiate social interactions, and failure to respond at all or respond appopriately to social initiations by others
- Deficits in nonverbal communication, such as abnormal eye contact, body language difficulties, challenges with understanding and using gestures or facil expressions to communicate
- Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships/friendships or showing no or little interest in peers or social relationships
Deficit in Communication Skills
- Difficulty with conversation or difficulty leading a discussion
- Frequent errors in speech
- Differences in intonation or volume of voice
- Challenges remaining on topic or making irrelevant marks
- Difficulty providing relevant comments to a conversational partner
- Difficulty moving away from a topic easily
- Struggle with reading comprehension of longer texts
- "Socially inappropriate" communicative behaviors such as talking to themselves, difficulties utilizing polite language, or commenting out of turn
Restricted/ Repetitive Patterns of Behavior
- Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, such as, lining up toys or flipping objects, or echolalia
- Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or difficulties with transitions
- Highly restricted, fixated interests, such as strong attachment to or objects, or excessively circumscribed interests
- Hyper/Hypo reactivity to sensory input, such as indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, and visual fascination with lights or movement
There is no cure for Autism. No one can “outgrow” it. If left untreated, Autism symptoms can result in the inability to keep a job or maintain relationships. Destructive or self-injurious behaviors prevent independent living.
Fortunately, most Autism symptoms can be treated.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a treatment method that uses the scientific principles of human behavior to teach new skills and modify behaviors. ABA can be used to teach communication skills, whether that is verbal or non-verbla. ABA is most known for improving social skills (such as friendship making and respecting authority) and Independence skills (self-care). ABA can also teach self-control and alternatives to aggressive/destructive behaviors that restrict everyday living (such as tantrums, body rocking/hand waiving, running away, hurting/biting/kicking/hitting others or themselves, non-compliance, etc.)
Speech Therapy can improve phonemic awareness, sound/syllable manipulation, and auditory perceptual skills. Depending on the learner’s current functioning level, speech therapy can help pre-reading and literacy skills, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing including organizational skills, grammar, and sentence structure. Articulation delays are also addressed if they affect the learner’s ability to effectively communicate with peers and/or teachers.
Occupational Therapy can improve fine motor development, visual motor integration, sensory motor integration development, self-help and organizational skills.
Social Skills Group Classes promote growth in social connections and friendship skills.