Autism Spectrum Disorder
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. People with ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. There is often nothing about how they look that sets them apart from other people. The abilities of people with spectrum disorders can vary significantly. For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversation skills whereas others may be nonverbal. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others can work and live with little to no support. They often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention.
What causes autism?
Autism is complex and as far as we know, there’s no single cause. Instead, experts believe it’s due to a mix of environmental and genetic factors. What we do know is that autism runs in families, and it is believed that certain combinations of genes may increase a child’s risk. Studies have also found a relationship between autism and children born to older parents, or children who experienced complications at birth.
Could I have autism even if I’m able to hold down a job and drive a vehicle?
Mild Autism Symptoms
Every person diagnosed with ASD has some specific developmental and sensory problems. Even people with mild autism may have symptoms that get in the way of normal activities and relationships. Mild autism is often referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome.
Symptoms of autism include:
- Problems with back-and-forth communication: It may be difficult to hold a conversation and use or understand body language, eye contact, and facial expressions.
- Difficulty developing and maintaining relationships: Children may struggle with imaginative play, making friends, or sharing interests.
- Repeating the same actions, activities, movements, or words: They may line up objects or do other activities over and over again, even if there is no obvious reason for doing so.
- Self-stimulating behaviors: This is also called stimming. They may rock back and forth, hum, pace, or flap their hands in ways that seem unusual to others.
- Limited range of interests, but in-depth knowledge: An autistic child might only care about a few things, but they’ll know everything there is to know about them.
- Being extremely sensitive or indifferent to sensations: A person may be extremely sensitive (hyperreactive) to the feel of material on their skin, be unable to stand loud noises, or have strong reactions to other sensory experiences. On the other hand, some may not notice changes in sensation (hyporeactive) such as extreme heat or cold.
With mild autism, some symptoms may seem barely present, while others may be quite noticeable.
For example, someone with mild autism or Asperger’s may:
- Be able to speak, but have trouble with back-and-forth conversation
- Try to make friends, but may not be successful because they appear “odd” to others
- Do age-appropriate schoolwork or tasks, but have a hard time with change or trying new ways of doing something.
How can therapy help someone with Autism?
As children with Autism Spectrum Disorder become adolescents and young adults, they may have difficulties developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers and adults, or understanding what behaviors are expected in school or on the job. The need for services may come to the attention of educators or healthcare providers because they also have conditions such as anxiety, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which occur more often in people with ASD than in people without ASD.
Current treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) seek to reduce symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. ASD affects each person differently, meaning that people with ASD have unique strengths and challenges and different treatment needs. Therefore, therapy may involve collaborating with other professionals and treatment is catered toward the unique needs of the individual
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If you are unsure of how therapy can help you, or you would be interested in a professional assessment for ASD, contact one of our friendly and helpful staff today.