Understanding Autism: From Early Signs to Diagnosis
What is Autism?
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning the severity and display of symptoms can vary among individuals. If you think your child may have autism, it’s important to understand the signs early and seek professional guidance for an accurate diagnosis.
Children with autism may struggle with social interactions. They may have difficulty with eye contact, responding to their name, or engaging in back-and-forth conversations. For example, a child may avoid looking at people’s faces and seldom smile or react when someone tries to engage them in conversation.
Repetitive and Restricted Behaviors
Some children with autism may exhibit repetitive behaviors or intense interest in specific topics. They might engage in repetitive movements like hand flapping, rocking, or spinning. They may also have a strong focus on certain objects or subjects, often to the exclusion of other activities. For instance, a child may spend hours organizing their toys by color or become fixated on a single topic and enjoy talking about it for extended periods.
Language and communication challenges are common in autism. Children may have delayed speech or struggle to express their needs and emotions verbally. Some children may not speak at all and rely on alternative communication methods. For example, a child may have difficulty understanding and using words, phrases, or gestures to communicate their desires or feelings.
Children with autism may experience sensory sensitivities, where they are overly sensitive or underreact to sensory stimuli. They may be hypersensitive to noise, light, textures, or smells, leading to distress or avoidance behaviors. For instance, a child might cover their ears or become upset by loud sounds that others find tolerable.
Difficulty with Changes in Routine
Children with autism often prefer consistency and may become upset or anxious when there are changes in their routines. They may insist on following a specific order of activities and have difficulty adapting to new situations. For example, a child might become distressed or agitated when their daily schedule is unexpectedly altered.
You see some of these signs in your child, so what’s next?
The Diagnosis Process
Receiving an official autism diagnosis involves a comprehensive assessment by healthcare professionals, such as pediatricians, psychologists, or developmental specialists. They will observe your child’s behavior, conduct interviews with you as the parent or caregiver, and may use standardized tests to gather information. The type of assessment depends on the child’s age, developmental level, and the clinician’s expertise.
At InBloom Autism Services, our Licensed Psychologist uses the ADOS-2, Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, and the Childhood Autism Rating Scale -Second Edition which are the gold standard for diagnosing autism. The ADOS-2 assessment involves direct interaction with the child being evaluated to identify a pattern of behaviors consistent with autism spectrum disorder. Our Licensed Psychologist will gather information about the child’s social communication abilities, play skills, and restricted or repetitive behaviors.
Call our Care Team at 888-754-0398 to schedule a diagnostic evaluation.
Early Intervention is Key
Recognizing the signs of autism in your child is an important step toward seeking appropriate guidance for an accurate diagnosis and interventions. Remember, these signs are just indicators, and a formal diagnosis should be made by a qualified professional. If you have concerns about your child’s development, it’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals who specialize in autism assessment. Early identification and intervention can greatly enhance your child’s progress and overall well-being. By understanding the signs and taking proactive steps, you can support your child on their unique journey with autism.
After the Evaluation
If your child receives an autism diagnosis, the next crucial step on their journey towards growth and development is finding appropriate treatment. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy, a widely recognized and evidence-based approach, has proven to be immensely beneficial for children with autism. ABA Therapy focuses on understanding and modifying behaviors by breaking them down into smaller components, teaching new skills, and reinforcing positive behaviors. This therapeutic technique not only helps in improving communication, social skills, and daily living tasks but also empowers children with autism to better cope with different environments, enhancing their quality of life.
Click here to learn more about InBloom’s ABA Therapy programs.