Autism Spectrum Disorder
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
An Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder. ASD affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact socially. Individuals with ASD can have restricted/repetitive behaviours as well as sensory sensitivities.
A person with ASD may:
- Have a preference to be or play alone
- Have difficulty in sharing a conversation and interests
- Need reminders to make eye contact when interacting
- Be unable to use words or language appropriately
- Find purposeful and imaginative play challenging
- Misunderstand social situations and interactions
- Have repetitive speech or body movements (eg. hand flapping, toe walking)
- Have trouble with change and following directions
- Have intense interests in toys, objects, letters and numbers
- Be sensitive to sounds, touch, taste and texture
We now use the term ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’. Previous terms such as Autistic Disorder, Autism (ie. High or Low Functioning Autism), Asperger’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) are no longer used.
Children, adolescents and adults with ASD may present with:
Developmental delays (eg. delays in fine or gross motor skills)
Poor independent daily living skills
Diagnoses of ASD can be made at any point in time across the lifespan. Symptoms are often recognised in children from the age of 2, often becoming noticeable when children prepare for and enter school. Diagnosing an ASD in adulthood is considered more challenging as adults have often learnt to compensate for social communication and social interaction difficulties.
How do we help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Following an assessment to help you understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses you can work together with services to develop an intervention program tailored to your child’s needs. This may involve support from a:
- Speech Pathologist
- Occupational Therapist
- Special Educator
- Clinical Psychologist/ Psychologist
When planning your child’s program and funding options consider contacting:
NSW Autism Advisor Program on 1300 978 611
Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) website: www.autismspectrum.org.au