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Category Archives: Autism
You've probably heard about autism. You may know someone who is on what doctors call the "autism spectrum." It could be someone in your family or a kid at school. But what is autism? How does someone get it? And can it be treated?
Autism is a word that refers to a wide range of developmental disorders that some people are born with or develop early in life. This group of disorders makes up what doctors call the autism spectrum. Someone whose condition falls within the spectrum has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Autism affects the brain and makes communicating and interacting with other people (chatting, playing, hanging out, or socializing with others) more difficult.
People on the autism spectrum often have trouble talking and understanding language from an early age. It can be hard for them to play games and understand the rules when they are kids. As they become teens, people on the autism spectrum might have trouble understanding what clothes are cool to wear, or how to play sports, or how to just hang out and talk.
Not everybody with autism spectrum disorder has the same difficulties. Some people may have autism that is mild. Others may have autism that is more severe. Two people with autism spectrum disorder may not act alike or have the same skills. Some people with autism are especially good at music or computers or art just like other teens. Others may have trouble with speech and balance and coordination (just like other people!).
About 40% of people with autism spectrum disorder have average or above-average intelligence. The other 60% have intellectual disabilities that range from mild to severe.
Right now, doctors and researchers don't fully understand what causes autism. Scientists believe it has something to do with genes and
Some studies suggest that something in the environment could make kids more likely to develop a spectrum disorder, but so far scientists haven't identified what that thing might be. Other studies have suggested that autism could be caused by viruses, allergies, or vaccines. But none of these theories have been scientifically proven. Most of the scientific studies on vaccines have found no link between vaccines and autism.
Figuring out what causes autism is hard because of how complicated the human brain is. Current research focuses on genetic causes, but since there are so many genes in the human body, it could be a long time before researchers know exactly which ones are involved.
Autism is usually diagnosed when a child is between 18 months and 4 years old. The earlier kids are diagnosed with a spectrum disorder, the sooner they can start getting help with their language and learning skills. There are no medical tests for autism, but doctors may do certain tests to rule out other possible problems, including hearing loss and difficulties with learning and paying attention.
Diagnosing autism can involve lots of health care professionals such as psychologists, neurologists, speech therapists, psychiatrists, and developmental pediatricians. To decide whether a child has autism spectrum disorder, doctors and other professionals compare the child's levels of development and behavior with those of other kids the same age.
Teens on the autism spectrum might have more problems with learning or making friends. Some can be like other teens much of the time but might have differences in the way they learn or in their interests. Some people on the spectrum have special gifts and talents.
Some kids with autism spectrum disorder can go to school just like their peers. People with moderate or severe autism spectrum disorder usually don't take part in regular classes typically, they have more trouble talking, and some might not talk at all.
Sometimes it can seem as if kids and teens with autism want to be left alone because they have trouble looking at, talking to, or hanging out with people. Sometimes they can seem rude or act like they're not interested in others.
Because of the way their brains work, it can be hard for some teens with autism to look at people while they talk. They also may have trouble understanding jokes or sarcasm. And since they've been taught by other people how to talk, teens on the spectrum might imitate what they have learned and their voices might sound flat or boring.
People with spectrum disorders often do things that seem unusual or repetitive, like saying the same word over and over or moving a body part in a certain way. When they do this, it's almost as if their brains have a case of the hiccups. They know they're doing it, but often have a hard time controlling it.
Sometimes people with autism may seem insensitive or look unemotional, but often they just don't know how to express how they're feeling. It doesn't mean they don't have feelings it can just be more difficult for them to show those feelings or understand the feelings of others.
There is no cure for autism, but treatment can make a big difference by helping people with autism spectrum disorder have fewer issues related to their conditions. Therapy can help kids with autism learn language and life skills, and ways to develop socially and behaviorally so they can enjoy their lives like other kids.
The brains of kids under 5 years old often adapt more easily. That's why it's best to start treatment for autism as early as possible. A treatment program might include:
Many other types of therapy (including diet, music, and art therapies) can help people with autism spectrum disorder. Teens with autism who don't attend regular classes in middle school and high school can also benefit from going to special-education classes or separate schools for students with disabilities.
You're bound to meet someone with autism spectrum disorder at some point. If you know someone who is on the autism spectrum, try to be understanding and patient. Don't expect the person to view the world the same way you do.
Sometimes it can be hard for teens with autism to interact with other people. For them, learning to communicate and express emotions can be like learning a foreign language. When even a casual conversation requires so much effort, and when hanging out or talking to a classmate becomes stressful and frustrating, it can be hard for people on the autism spectrum to make friends.
Even though people on the autism spectrum see the world in a different way, there's plenty to connect on, like playing video games. If you know someone on the autism spectrum, you can help just by including him or her or where possible or hanging out one-on-one. Watching how you interact with other people can help the person learn rules for friendships and make it easier to make other friends.
Reviewed by: Raphael Bernier, PhDDate reviewed: January 2014
Autism - KidsHealth
At this time, there is no cure for ASD. An early, intensive, appropriate treatment program will greatly improve the outlook for most young children with ASD. Most programs build on the interests of the child in a highly structured schedule of constructive activities.
The best treatment plan may use a combination of techniques, including:
APPLIED BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS (ABA)
This program is for younger children. It can be effective in some cases. ABA uses one-on-one teaching that reinforces the practice of various skills. The goal is to get the child close to normal developmental functioning.
ABA programs are usually done in a child's home under the supervision of a behavioral psychologist. These programs can be very expensive and have not been widely adopted by school systems. Parents often must seek funding and staffing from other sources, which can be hard to find in many communities.
Another program is called the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH). TEACCH was developed as a statewide program in North Carolina. It uses picture schedules and other visual cues that help the child work independently and organize and structure their environments.
Though TEACCH tries to improve a child's adaptation and skills, it also accepts the problems associated with ASD. Unlike ABA programs, TEACCH programs do not expect children to achieve typical development with treatment.
There is no medicine that treats ASD itself. But medicines are often used to treat behavior or emotional problems that people withASD may have, including:
Currently, only risperidone is approved to treat children ages 5through 16 for the irritability and aggression that can occur with ASD. Other medicines that may also be used include mood stabilizers and stimulants.
Some children withASD appear to respond to a gluten-free or casein-free diet. Gluten is found in foods containing wheat, rye, and barley. Casein is found in milk, cheese, and other dairy products. Not all experts agree that dietary changes will make a difference, and not all studies of this method have shown positive results.
If you are considering these or other dietary changes, talk to both a doctor who specializes in the digestive system (gastroenterologist) and a registered dietitian. You want to be sure that the child is still receiving enough calories, nutrients, and a balanced diet.
Beware that there are widely publicized treatments forASD that do not have scientific support, and reports of miracle cures that do not live up to expectations. If your child has ASD, it may be helpful to talk with other parents of children withASD andASD specialists. Follow the progress of research in this area, which is rapidly developing.
What is autism?
Autism is a developmental disability. Children with autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD, have social, communication and language problems. They also have restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, such as flipping objects, echolalia, or excessive smelling or touching of objects. Autism may be mild or severe. All children with autism don't have the exact same problems. Children with autism may have the following social and communication skills and common behaviors:
Your child may have problems using social skills to connect with other people. He may seem to be in his own world. It may be hard for him to
Your child may have trouble with communication skills like understanding, talking with others, reading or writing. Sometimes, she might lose words or other skills that she's used before. Your child may have problems
Your child also may
A childwith autism may
It is important to have your child evaluated by professionals who know about autism. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), typically as part of a team, may diagnose autism. The team might include pediatricians, neurologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and developmental specialists, among others. SLPs play a key role because problems with social skills and communication are often the first symptoms of autism. SLPs should be consulted early in the evaluation process. There are a number of tests and observational checklists available to evaluate children with developmental problems. The most important information, however, comes from parents and caregivers who know the child best and can tell the SLP and others all about the child's behavior.
Problems with social uses of language may be a social communication disorder, sometimes called a pragmatic language disorder. All children with autism have social communication problems. Children with other disorders also may have social communication problems. Sometimes a child just has a social communication disorder. Children with social communication problems also may have other language disorders. These may include problems with vocabulary, grammar, reading, or writing.
A social communication disorder may lead to behavior problems. Children may be frustrated because of their communication problems. They may not be able to share their wants or needs.
Children who have social communication problems without restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities may be diagnosed as having a Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder rather than an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
There is no known cure for autism. In some cases, medications and dietary restrictions may help control symptoms. Intervention should begin when the child is young. Early intervention and preschool programs are very important. An evaluation by an SLP should be completed to determine social skill, communication, language, and behavior needs. An appropriate treatment plan that meets the needs of the child and family can then be established. Treatment may include any combination of traditional speech and language approaches, augmentative and alternative communication, and behavioral interventions. It is also important to have the child's hearing evaluated to rule out hearing loss.
Read more in this guide from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Therapies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review of the Research for Parents and Caregivers.
Autism is a lifelong problem with a number of possible causes, including but not limited to:
An SLP may work with your child at home, in the classroom, or in an office. Your child might work on some goals alone or in small groups. Small groups allow your child to practice skills with other children.
An SLP will help your child understand, talk, read, and write. SLPs work with children on social skills too. They also work with children who don't talk at all. An SLP may help your child:
An SLP will help your child understand and use words. Your child may learn to
SLPs also work on reading and writing. Your child may learn to
An SLP may use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with your child. AAC should be used at home and when you go out. It's not just for school.AAC includes
Many children with autism can benefit from AAC. AAC may even help children learn to talk.
Children with autism may to like the way foods look, taste, or smell. They may not like how some foods feel in their mouth. Your child may
An SLP can help your child accept new foods.
ASHA developed some resources about autism for clinicians who work with autism spectrum disorders.
This list is not exhaustive and inclusion does not imply endorsement of the organization or the content of the website by ASHA.
Read more here:
Autism - Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism spectrum disorder is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child's ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These issues cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is now defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a single disorder that includes disorders that were previously considered separate autism, Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.
The term "spectrum" in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. Although the term "Asperger's syndrome" is no longer in the DSM, some people still use the term, which is generally thought to be at the mild end of autism spectrum disorder.
The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is rising. It's not clear whether this is due to better detection and reporting or a real increase in the number of cases, or both.
While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, intensive, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
Autism spectrum disorder - Mayo Clinic
Before Wendy Radcliff agreed to marry Scott Finn, she made it clear they would have to live in her home state of West Virginia.
Politically active, Radcliff loved West Virginia and wanted to spend her life there, helping to make it a better place. The couple married, had a son, Max, and built their life together in Radcliff's hometown of Charleston.
Then, just before his second birthday, Max was diagnosed with autism.
Radcliff had insurance -- good insurance, she says -- through West Virginia's Public Employees Insurance Agency, which she received through her work for the state. But although PEIA paid for the autism diagnosis, it would not pay for the prescribed treatment -- applied behavior analysis, or ABA. There are a similar models that go by different names, but ABA is by far the best-known.
ABA is typically administered one on one, in a program that is customized to the individual. It involves breaking down learning tasks into small steps, and teaching them over and over in a reinforcing way until they are mastered.
It is the best-researched and most effective current treatment for autism, experts say.
By the time Max was 4, Radcliff and Finn were spending $750 to $1,000 a week to treat Max.
"Our credit cards were being used to pay for things that they shouldn't be paying for, like groceries and utility bills, because we were spending any cash we had on our therapists," says Radcliff.
And even then, they struggled to get the right therapy, Radcliff says.
"In West Virginia, because insurance will not cover ABA, it's very difficult to find people that know and are trained in how to do ABA -- they're just not available and around because of that," says Radcliff.
They cobbled together a few hours a week of basic ABA therapy, sometimes administered by inexperienced, overwhelmed or noncertified therapists. At one point, desperate for help, Radcliff even had her brother trained to administer a few hours a week of basic ABA therapy, she says.
"We only knew of a couple of ABA therapists even in the Kanawha Valley where we lived. And [they] were being overused by people -- they just didn't have enough hours in the day."
Research suggests any child with autism, regardless of severity, has an equal chance at "best outcome" if the child completes an ABA program (average is three years to completion) that starts before the age of 3 1/2, says Kristi Oldham, program director for the Lovaas Institute Midwest Headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which provides early intervention services for kids with autism.
Sixty-seven percent of such children can expect a "best outcome," which Lovaas defines as a child who is mainstreamed in a classroom without additional support, has no diagnoses on the autism spectrum and has a typical IQ, Oldham says.
And yet PEIA, like many insurance companies across the nation, does not cover the treatment for kids diagnosed with autism.
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Autism Treatment Myrtle Beach SC - Autism Support Network
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a persons ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a spectrum condition that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.
In March 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report.The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 68 births in the United States nearly twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125 and almost 1 in 54 boys.The spotlight shining on autism as a result has opened opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve families facing a lifetime of supports for their children. In June 2014, researchers estimated the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism is as great as $2.4 million. The Autism Society estimates that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism. (This figure includes research, insurance costs and non-covered expenses, Medicaid waivers for autism, educational spending, housing, transportation, employment, related therapeutic services and caregiver costs.)
Autism is treatable. Children do not outgrow autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. For more information on developmental milestones,visit the CDCs Know the Signs. Act Early site.
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About Autism | Autism Society