Autism is a Spectrum disorder, that is, there are varying degrees of its effect on individuals diagnosed as having the disorder.
Diagnosis can either be ASD or ASC, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Autism Spectrum Condition.
Medical research has identified a variety of possible causes of Autism including genetic factors and problems with the development of the brain which occur before, during or very soon after birth.
Autism affects people across the whole range of intellectual abilities and also affects all nationalities and ethnic groups. One person in 100 is now said to be on the Autistic Spectrum.
Disorders on the Autistic Spectrum have several things in common. It presents as a collection of characteristics which commonly occur, but they may vary enormously among individuals. It is a developmental disorder, primarily consisting of social, communication and imagination difficulties, commonly referred to as the ‘Triad of Impairment‘.
The Triad of Impairment refers to the main difficulties that people with Autism have:
A careful diagnosis will help the family of the Autistic individual to understand reasons for the behaviours that they exhibit. It will also enable them to identify and access appropriate educational, therapeutic and support services.
An accurate and early diagnosis may be difficult to obtain but it is always worth seeking a medical assessment from professionals who have considerable knowledge of Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
There can also be a delay in diagnosis because Autism can often be mistaken for other language / learning developmental disorders not uncommon in very young children.
If you are concerned that your child may be displaying Autistic characteristics, contact your Health Visitor if the child is under 5. For children over 5, contact your G.P. for a referral to the Community Paediatrician. Adults can be referred to Health Authority Clinical Psychiatrists by G.P’s.
The earlier a diagnosis of Autism is made, the better the chances are of a person receiving appropriate help and guidance. Specialist education and structured support go a long way to making a real difference in the life of the affected individual. People with Autism need specialised help to maximise their skills and achieve their full potential as adults.
Autism is not a label, it is a signpost, which gives access to resources, facilities, understanding and provision, which can lead to a happier, more successful life for the individual and their family.
To aid interaction
To aid communication
To aid imagination
In addition to the Triad of Impairments, some children with Autism experience sensory disorders and may be sensitive to sound, sight, touch or smell. Try to avoid over-stimulating the senses by keeping surroundings simple and distraction to a minimum, avoid clutter and too many things going on at once.
Above all, it is important to understand the reason for your child's behaviour is not down to you and not down to them. When they misbehave, it is usually due to lack of understanding, or frustration rather than just being naughty or difficult. Try to remain calm with your child and remove them from the situation if they are becoming difficult to control. Maintaining a routine and schedule of activities can help prepare your child for changes.