April is Autism Awareness month. This month, we celebrate that every child and adult with Autism is “different, not less.” We also strive to bring awareness and acceptance to the community.
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that can cause challenges across communication, behavior, and social skills.
It is referred to as a “spectrum” as it covers a wide range of symptoms.
Characteristics may include:
- Difficulty with social communication/interaction skills
- Decreased referencing/ eye contact
- Difficulty with conversational skills
- Atypical response to anger, distress, affection
- Understanding and using non-verbal communication appropriately (body language, facial expressions)
- Understanding and using appropriate tone of voice and/or prosody
- Difficulty with taking other’s perspectives
- Repetitive behaviors
- Limited and restricted interests
- Difficulty tolerating change or new environments
- Sensitivity to sound, light, touch
- Difficulty with activities of daily living
- Difficulty developing language skills
Autism is prevalent in 1 in 68 children in the United States, being more common among males (4.5 times more). Prevalence is higher in children who have a sibling or family member with ASD.
The CDC reported 46% of children with ASD to have above average intelligence.
The CDC offers complimentary resources for families. The Developmental Milestones checklists/app are free and give insight into expected milestones.
The link is here: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/freematerials.html
What should I do if my child exhibits signs of Autism?
- Contact a developmental pediatrician, a child neurologist, or a child psychiatrist or psychologist for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation
- Early intervention
- If your child is under age 3, contact the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) 919-962-2001
- If your child is over the age of 3, contact your child’s local public school system
Primary Professionals Who Work with Individuals with Autism
Speech-Language Pathologists Address:
- Interaction/engagement and social skill development
- Development of expressive and receptive language
- Play skills
Occupational Therapists Address:
- Sensory processing concerns
- Daily living skills
- Fine and gross motor skills
Applied Behavior Analysts Address:
- Meaningful and positive changes in a child’s behavior to increase independence and participation
- Increasing, decreasing, maintaining or generalizing skills across settings
Inspirational individuals with Autism:
The people mentioned in the post above are inspiring…without a doubt. But honestly, as therapists, we can say that all of the children we see inspire US every day. We are so grateful that we have the opportunity to watch each child grow and reach new milestones. They put in the work and they make it happen. We only spend a small portion of each day with them, but the impact they leave with us is substantial. If we don’t say it enough, we are so proud of each and every one of our kids and we truly feel blessed to give them the tools they need to succeed.
Food for Thought
Do not expect qualities or characteristics in someone because of a diagnosis. Understand that every child/person is different and celebrate what makes that person unique.
Spread the word: use person first language! We don’t say a person with Autism “is autistic,” because Autism does not define a person with Autism. Autism is merely a small part of the whole. This is why first person language is important. We try our best to educate families and friends to use first person language. Here are some examples using Autism and other conditions:
- Person/child/adult with Autism
- Person/child/man/woman with Down Syndrome
- Person who is hard of hearing
- Person with cerebral palsy
I hope you find this information helpful to share with your friends and family about Autism. If your loved ones would rather watch videos to learn about Autism, here are some wonderful videos explaining Autism to audiences of all ages. Help us spread the word and foster more acceptance and appreciation for children and adults with Autism!
Brittany Garcia, M.S., CCC-SLP
– Brittany Garcia, M.S., CCC-SLP – Licensed Speech & Language Pathologist
– National Institute of Health
– Center for Disease Control
– Center for Autism
DISCLAIMER: Information published about one particular disorder does not necessarily apply to every individual who has the disorder discussed in this content. Treatments and therapies are highly individual and must be customized to the needs of each person to be effective. Do not make changes to your/your child’s treatment plan as a result of what you read in this article (or any content published by AASL) without consulting your/your child’s physicians and therapists. This content does not necessarily reflect the opinions of All About Speech and Language or its therapists. To understand the opinions and recommendations of your/your child’s AASL therapist, schedule an appointment with your therapist to discuss your concerns.Tags: Autism, autism awareness, explaining autism