Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Everything You Need to Know

In Autism Spectrum Disorder, children typically struggle with social engagement and the interpretation of non-verbal cues such as reading varied facial expressions, in addition to varying degrees of language and cognitive defects. These kids work better with fixed routines and may become destabilized when their routines are changed, and they also struggle with environmental sensitivity while fixating on things they like, almost to the point of obsession.

The combination of these may cause problems in the classroom for their teachers, but with assistive technology, the classroom experience is becoming better for these kids and their educators.

Early symptoms of ASD can be noticed by pediatricians or parents/caregivers before a kid reaches one year of age. However, signs typically become more prominently visible by the time a kid is two or three years old. In some instances, the functional impairment associated with autism might be mild and not visible until the kid starts school, after which the deficits might become apparent when amongst the peers.

Repetitive behaviors and restricted interests may include:

·         Extreme difficulty coping with change, inflexibility of behavior

·         Being excessively focused on niche topics to the exclusion of others

·         Anticipating others to have equal interests in those subjects

·         Sensory hypersensitivity

·         Difficulty tolerating new experiences and changes in routine

·         Arranging things, usually toys, in a very specific manner

·         Stereotypical movements like hand flapping, spinning and rocking

Social communication deficits may include:

·         Difficulty appreciating their own and others’ emotions

·         Reduced sharing of interests with others

·         Lack of proficiency with the utilization of non-verbal gestures

·         Disinclination to maintaining eye contact

·         Scripted or stilted speech

·         Difficulty making friends and/or keeping them

·         Interpreting abstract ideas literally

While there’s no cure for ASD, there’re several effective interventions that can enhance a kid’s functioning.

Social skills training: This is provided in individual or group settings and helps kids with autism increase their ability to navigate social situations.

Occupational therapy: It addresses adaptive skills deficits with different activities of daily living and problems with handwriting.

Speech & language therapy: It can enhance a kid’s understanding of language and speech patterns.

Parent management training: Parents learn useful methods of responding to difficult behaviors and inspiring appropriate behavior in their kids. Parent support groups help parents deal with the stressors of raising a kid with autism.

Special education services: Under an IEP provided by the school that accommodates their restricted interests, social communication deficits, and repetitive behaviors, kids with ASD can achieve their fullest potential academically.

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