Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
What is ASD?
Autism is a developmental disorder with behavioral and communicative symptoms often noticed within the first two years of life.
There are many different symptoms that can affect children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) along with varying degrees of severity. Children with ASD may also show symptoms of other disorders such as ADHD, expressive language disorders, or anxiety/depression.
Children with ASD often struggle to participate in social interactions; have restricted interests; perform repetitive behaviors; and experience sensitivity to sensory input (like bright lights and sounds). Children with ASD often cling to familiar places and routines, whereas even the smallest change can cause intense stress and anxiety.
How Do They Test for ASD?
The first step in diagnosing a young child with ASD is maintaining regular well-child checkups with a pediatrician. Pediatricians screen children at regular intervals during the first two years of life as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
If developmental problems are evident, a second evaluation will be recommended and administered by a specialty team. This team often includes a developmental pediatrician, a child psychiatrist, a neurologist, and a speech-language pathologist. This evaluation may assess cognitive and language abilities, as well as whether or not your child can complete daily self-care tasks like getting dressed. With young children, parents are often asked to complete questionnaires about their child’s abilities.
For older children and teens, it is often a teacher or parent who first notice symptoms. These can include difficulty understanding figurative language or having trouble making friends. Teachers can recommend your child for evaluation by the school’s child study team. The child study team may recommend that you contact physicians who specialize in ASD for further evaluation. You can also advocate for your child by going directly to your pediatrician with your concerns.
Management: What You Can Do to Help Your Child
Be sure to begin treatment for ASD as early as possible to help reduce your child’s challenges while helping them learn new skills. There isn’t one best treatment for children with ASD, since symptoms differ so widely from child to child. Work closely with your child’s physicians to build a program that will best benefit your child’s unique needs.
Medication. Your pediatrician can recommend medications to help with issues such as irritability and aggression; repetitive behaviors; attention deficits and hyperactivity; as well as anxiety and depression. Closely monitor your child when taking any type of medication.
Behavioral, Psychological & Educational Therapies. Therapists that can help build strong social, psychological, educational, and self-care skills which can include the entire family and help your child learn life skills and build upon their strengths.
School Accommodations: A child with ADHD has the legal right to educational accommodations under a 504 Plan or, for children who qualify for special education services, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Below is a list of some classroom accommodations that help provide educational equity in the classroom:
- Receiving a Classroom Aid
- Receiving Exercise Breaks
- Wearing Noise Canceling Headphones
- Receiving Low-Distraction Work Areas
Interventions at Home:
- Focus on Your Child’s Strengths. Remember that your child with ASD can face many challenges, they can also possess many strengths. Common strengths associated with ASD include remembering intricate details; being a strong visual learner; and excelling in math, science, music, or art.
- Celebrate All Progress. Remember to encourage quality, not quantity. Even accomplishing what may seem like a very small victory, like being able to put on a sock without help, is cause for celebration!
- Hire a One-on-One Tutor. An experienced tutor like ours here at TestingMom.com can meet with your child regularly to help stay organized and focused while completing homework; tutor in educational skills and concepts he or she needs a little more time to master; and reinforce organizational skills by creating and helping your child maintain checklists. Contact Testing Mom today! Call (813) 544-3833 or Email email@example.com.
- Establish Routines. Create and maintain routines for snacks, homework, free time, dinner, school backpack organization, bedtime, etc.
- Join TestingMom.com. On TestingMom.com, your child can work with HearBuilder in our Skill Building Academy, which teaches listening and following directions. Reach out to our Parent Success Team at 877-609-6203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They can guide you to practice questions to build verbal, listening, focus, and working memory skills. Depending on your child’s age and ability level, our Parent Success Team can guide you to other interactive reading, language, and learning programs on the website that support your child’s specific learning challenges.
- Join GogoBrain.com. Activities on GoGoBrain.com will help your child build skills in listening, following directions, self-control, focus and attention and working memory – all areas of challenge for children with ASD.
- Work with these Gifted Learning Flashcards from TestingMom.com, available on Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/32EC4E23-A441-48B1-A64C-527F5E0CBB99?ingress=0&visitId=c8a1d2bb-154f-4433-ad17-f47fcc159389&lp_slot=auto-sparkle-hsa-tetris&store_ref=SB_A03042771YCHATG1WWFLE&ref_=sbx_be_s_sparkle_mcd_cta
Visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH, a division of the National Institute of Health) website for more information, including risk factors for ASD and helpful resources for parents: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd
Some information contained here was sourced from the NIMH:
National Institute of Mental Health (2022). Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd