The Autism Spectrum including Asperger’s Disorders
The autism spectrum describes a range of conditions classified as pervasive development disorders in the diagnostic manual of mental disorders. Both autism and asperger’s disorder include social and communication difficulties,stereotyped and repetitive behaviors and interests, and in some cases, cognitive delays .Individuals are considered “in the autism spectrum” based on the severity of their symptoms.
Autism, in itself, is characterized by delays or abnormal functioning before the age of three in one of the above areas plus communication difficulties including lack of speech, avoidance of social interaction with people, and something called echolalia which is repeating words over and over.
Asperger’s syndrome can be differentiated from autism by lack of delaying in early speech development. People with asperger’s disorder do not have significant cognitive delays. However, an individual with asperger’s can have inappropriate affect or social behavior problems. They have a hard time making social connections with others.
As of this time, there are no definitive factors for the cause of these disorders. Genetic factors may play role. Prenatal complications, such as age of parents, maternal diabetes, use of prescription drugs may be factors. Nothing is conclusive.
How to Help a Child with Autism. Some Successful Techniques I Have Used.
- Get the child to talk to you, using colorful picture cards, magazine illustrations and short
- Referral to nutritionist for a possible change of diet, including less gluten-free products.
- Incorporate sensory integration activities such as exposing the child to different textures and
- smells gradually. Children with autism can be oversensitive to light, smells and touch.
- Teach the child social skills, such as how to handle meeting new people, how to read
- nonverbal cues in people, how to enter a conversation, how to manage eye contact.
- Give child lots of support, encouragement and strokes.
- Engage in an activity called “floor time” wherein the parent gets literally on the floor and
- engages the child in a fun game with at least one other child.
- Encourage parents to get their child into school or play groups early.
- Refer parents to the web site TACA which may be a helpful resource