Autism is a simple name for a complex array of disorders. Disorders associated with autism are generally focused on socialization and communication. Parents often notice problems in these areas when children should start developing more mature communication skills, but symptoms can appear and change starting in infancy through adult years. It is important to note that the “spectrum” referred to in the name Autism Spectrum Disorder can be associated with different symptoms with the same diagnosis or different symptom severity within the same group of symptoms. There are categories within Autism Spectrum Disorder - Classic Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Atypical Autism.
The most common symptoms of autism are actually abnormal actions. For instance, toddlers with autism may not communicate well with other children. They may have trouble showing normal/natural emotions. Activities may be repetitive and “safe,” which means the autistic child repeats the same behaviors over and over again because it is something they can understand and feel comfortable with.
Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder has a fingerprint of sorts. While multiple patients may have the same general symptoms, those symptoms are different for each person. Treating Autism Spectrum Disorder requires regular mental and physical care. Behavioral treatments are widely accepted and beneficial for many patients, but there is no one care plan for all autistics.
- Behavioral Therapy: Getting inside the mind of an autistic child takes a great deal of time, patience and experience with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Before behavioral treatment can begin, the patient must trust the caregiver. Once trust is established, the real treatment can begin. Behavior therapy involves reinforcing desired behaviors and reducing bouts of undesirable behaviors. Patients will also work with speech therapists on communication skills.
- Medications: There are no medications currently approved for use specifically with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but there are medications prescribed to patients in an attempt to curb anxiety and ease integration into society.
Education and Integration into the School System
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder can attend public school. AnIndividual Education Plan (IEP)will be established with the school system, special education teachers and/or classroom teachers and other school personnel who need to be a part of the child’s care. The IEP is used as a guide for parents and teachers as it outlines how the school is expected to handle individual care and education of the child in question.
Autism Spectrum Disorder can range from mild to severe. Some children and adults with more severe forms of autism are unable to attend public school and require intense medical care for a lifetime. Other patients with a milder form of the disorder attend school, go on to college, graduate and start a family of their own. No two cases are the same.