Autism vs Mental Retardation

What is the difference between mental retardation and autism?

I guess the simplest way to delineate the difference between the two is to define what each condition is. Mental retardation, by the way, is not a diagnosis used much by medical professionals anymore. It requires a score on a standardized intelligence test, at least two standard deviations below the norm. How this translates into numbers is as follows; if “normal” are 100 then 2 standard deviations below that are 50-75 approximately. Mental retardation is an assessment of the patient’s cognitive functioning. How their intelligence is rated to everyone else who took the exam, of the same age. Intelligence tests are not great predictors of future success or ability. Why is that the case? First of all they are culturally biased, so if the person, who is taking the test, does not share the same culture as the test maker has, they will score lower. If the test is not age appropriate, again the score on the test might not reflect their “true” abilities. There are different tests for different age groups; all of these tests have their problems.

Another way to measure mental functioning is by an assessment of the child’s sensory motor development. This is generally done by a physical or occupational therapist, and is done prior to admission to school. There are children who should not be in a mainstream classroom, their behavior, cognitive development, and socialization skills are below the acceptable guidelines for inclusion. A solution, of sorts, for these children is a special education program apart from the mainstream students. The only time these students would interact with the mainstream students is in the lunchroom, gymnasium, music and perhaps vocational education classes (i.e.; woodshop, home economics, car repair.)

People’s perceptions are hard things to change. There are still people who think that mental retardation is contagious, therefore they must not interact with them lest they catch what they have. They are very much afraid of mental retarded young men, because they feel that they will act out sexually, and they will be hurt by them. This is not to say that some generalizations people hold, do not have some elements of truth to them, but to make blanket assertions is not fair either.

It is true that autism does appear more frequently in the mental retarded population, but the converse is not true. Autistic children do not generally have diminished cognitive functioning. They have normal, even above normal intelligence. The issues some autistic children have are their inability to function socially within the “normal” population. The word normal really does not mean much; it is nothing more than another subjective assessment put on them by the medical establishment.

Often, a child that is labeled as autistic is unable to communicate with the outside world, using language. They cannot process the world in terms of letters and sounds; they do make their wishes known, however to their caregivers, often in nonverbal ways. They score normally or above normally on standardized intelligence tests. Often their difficulty arises when they have to leave the security of their primary caregivers, i.e. their parents and enter some form of educational institution. Times have definitely changed in the educational system, an autistic child; even as long ago as 10 years ago, often was labeled as retarded, because there was a shortage of empirical data on how to classify these children; or how to teach them for that matter.

Autistic children suffered from many misconceptions as to their cognitive abilities, from their teachers, psychologists, physical therapists and other medical and quasi medical professionals. There were some teachers who believed that autistic children, because of their inability to use verbal language, were unable to think. Thinking is not only a function of being able to express oneself verbally.

With the advent of assistive technology, there are ways for autistic and other non verbally capable children to attend school in a mainstream classroom. There is a special typewriter that allows the autistic child to communicate within the classroom, without having to say a word. Often they do need a paraprofessional to sit next to them, to serve as a liaison between the child and the teacher.

There are cases of autistic children becoming advocates for other autistic children, in order to dispense valuable information on how to cope with the confusing world they find themselves in. Hollywood’s attempt at promoting understanding of autism, by the movie Rainman, really just perpetuated more stereotypes about autism, then it alleviated. Not all autistic children are able to play the piano, drive a car or are institutionalized. Not all autistic children are idiot savants, meaning they have a disability in one area, but are experts in another, like mathematics or music for example.

The fact that remains true in autism is that often it develops into a more severe form as the child matures. Asperser’s syndrome and other perceptional problems do not disappear. The inability to understand jokes, facial gestures, social clues, puts autistic children and adults at a disadvantage in the mainstream world. They have a major difficulty working in a group setting, taking orders, and getting along with co-workers, following instructions and other work related abilities. Some of these skills can be learned, but the anger level and frustration threshold of many autistic sufferers is low.

There is still plenty of erroneous information about autism’s relationship to mental retardation in the media. Academic and medical journals have a storehouse of articles on this subject. The bottom line is that there is still plenty of research being done on autism. The mental health hierarchy has determined that mental retardation is no longer to be used as an appropriate diagnosis code for insurance forms. A broader definition of mental illness, which includes autism, depression, manic-depression, panic attacks, anxiety disorder is the way of the future. Psychiatrists and psychologists are trying to assist people who have difficulties relating to the world, manage to have a more productive life. Medication is not the only solution to problems, learning how to live life on life’s terms is not an easy task, but one that with consistent effort is possible.

Assistive Technology For Children With Autism

Within the last fifty years, children with special needs have gained enormous grounds with civil rights and general knowledge and understanding in the public eye. What’s more, autism has not only become more easily recognized and diagnosed but technology has grown to the point where adaptive and assistive devices break through the autism barrier to make real connections. While some of these devices are more common place, some are more adaptive to the skill level of the individual child.

Most commonly used now is an iPad or touch screen tablet, enclosed in a extreme behavior-proof case. Because behavior analysts that treat many children have recognized that a child with autism readily connects to a screen more than to other human beings, and that they actually learn more and can better communicate with those in their daily surroundings, tablet computers are frequently used. Children with autism don’t have to make eye contact with a tablet, but there are several apps on these tablets that these children can use and learn to “speak” to others (if they are generally non-verbal). The top two teaching and communication apps for these devices are Proloquil and Autism Speaks 2. These types of assistive technology devices for children with autism get them to interact, make choices, respond, and tell parents and others who work with them in therapy what they want, need, think, and maybe even feel.

Additionally, anyone familiar with Stephen Hawking has seen assistive technology devices for children with special needs. Sometimes the hardest part for parents is trying to figure out if there is a thinking soul trapped within the body of their child with severe CP or if they have mental retardation. In regards to Stephen Hawking, he uses adaptive devices that many of these children use as well; wheelchairs that move with a puff of air from their mouths and computers that type with eye movements. While the majority of children with autism disorders are generally able to get around on their own, the computers that type by tracking eye movements are currently being used in some public school settings.

Children on the spectrum who are sensitive to the sounds in their surroundings may also encounter other assistive devices. These particular assistive technology devices for children with autism may include noise cancelling headphones or headphones that at first may cancel noise and then the therapist may gradually expose the child to a little more noise at a time until the child is no longer bothered by what they hear without the headphones. Similar therapies can be applied with light, touch, and taste/oral therapy. (For instance, some children with autism are compelled to chew or have an oral “fixation”. Electric assistive devices in this case might help. They are a lot like a sonic toothbrush; very quiet but they vibrate to to provide stimulation where the child wants it most).

Many other assistive devices are available; checking with your child’s therapist or special needs teacher will help you get started. Federal, state and local government allows financial assistance for families with autistic children.

Assistance For Children With Autism

Financial And Community Supports For Children With Autism

Having a child with autism can be such a difficult thing for parents. You love that child because they are your own flesh and blood, but that child may or may not be able to return that affection or even eye contact. They may shirk and shy at your touch, being tactile defensive. They may have issues you don’t even know where to begin to deal with. It’s hard, but there is a lot of help out there if you know where to turn.

If you have all the right documentation from diagnostic specialists and pediatricians, the first place to go is your local Social Security Administration office. Applying for disability funding only takes an hour of your time, and in most states, Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is applied for at the same time. Within two to six months, you will know if your child has been approved. The amounts vary as much as a $1,000 per child per month, depending on where you live, but the standard monthly allotment is about $2,000-3,000. This includes the amounts of Disability plus SSI from both the state and federal levels, and can be direct deposited into your checking account to help you take care of all the special needs your child has. This, of course is a great comfort, to say the least, as you can hire specially trained people to come in and take care of your child giving you a little more freedom to focus on things that might otherwise be difficult with an autistic child in tow.

Additionally, the sooner you enroll your child in a State Birth to Three Early Intervention service the sooner your child can start getting therapeutic care at home. From there, early learning classes for four and five year olds in local elementary schools can continue what the birth to three therapists have started. There is hope for every child, but only if you start as soon as possible. Regular visits to the pediatrician will help you recognize if your child is behind developmentally and may have autism and be in need of services.

Also, many states have Long Term Care or LTC services, that will continue to care for your autistic child when they reach young adult years and can’t care for themselves. Each situation is different and needs to be evaluated by a specially trained intake worker at the county level to determine if your child qualifies. This type of service also has therapeutic services provided by a separate autism therapy office that sends autism line therapists into your home to work with your child a certain number of hours a week for as long as they need it. Because the parents do not need to be present during these therapy sessions, this is also a good time for a little respite for stressed parents. The downside to this is that most states require that you apply for such services before the child turns eight. It’s a race against the clock, because the application process can take up to a year, so applying as soon as you can means everything.

Lastly, there are support groups out there and in your community for parents undergoing some of the same problems and issues with their children who have autism. No one could expect you to do this alone, and these groups are a great place to safely vent everything you need to. The other parents there understand what you’re going through, and will be of comfort to you. You have to take care of you just as much as your child; remember that.

Next time, we will discuss assistive technology for children with autism.

Respite Care Information for Children with Autism

Challenges Vs. Self-care

Having a child with autism is often very challenging. Parents, while they work to understand and deal with and take care of a special needs child, also need to find the balance wherein they care for themselves. Loving parents often feel guilty for this, but they shouldn’t. If a parent doesn’t care for themselves and get a break once in a while, they lose the ability to make rational choices regarding their autistic child or start to lose a sense of compassion and concern and care. If you are involved in any extra assistance programs with your child, chances are you already have a great resource to find respite care services for children with autism.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care is a wonderful way for parents to get a break from the extra challenges they face parenting a child with special needs. Depending on where you live, finding a respite care program that works for you and your child may just be a simple phone call away to the county agency that provides resources and support to parents like you. Respite care for children with disabilities often involves day programs, support groups with other like individuals and families, and even referrals to specially trained childcare providers who understand your need for a little “me time” and are there to help.

Where Can I Find Info On Respite Care?

Some states actually have a respite care providers network. These may be operated by the state and county in which you reside or they may be non-profit organizations dedicated to providing temporary care to individuals with special needs. Respite care costs are the parents’ responsibility in some cases, while in others if the county makes the referral for you the county foots the bill, and if you do not have the fiscal resources to pay.

Most states have what is referred to as a “Long Term Care Waiver” for special needs children. Once your child has been diagnosed with autism, ADD/ ADHD, Down’s Syndrome, Asperger’s, or any other developmental delay/ disorder you can apply to this waiver program. Generally the age limit for these children is eight years of age, so it is vital that you seek out a diagnosis early and apply as soon as you can for your child(ren). The determination for eligibility is a long one, unless your child(ren) also receive(s) Federal Social Security Disability Income or Social Security Income benefits. If you have a determination letter from the Federal office of disability it speeds the process along much faster. A county representative then meets with you in your home to fill out paperwork and meet your child face to face and discuss concerns and reasons for entering the long term waiver program. If the determination is a positive one, your child receives additional in home therapy for their issues, and this also includes respite time for you. The agent conducting the investigation will also hand you a list of resources in your area that will help you manage the challenges you are facing in a healthy and more functional way.

A Childcare Resource And Referral Center, or a Family Resource Center in your community can also be a great service to consult. This organization is very good at compiling lists of people and daycares and other child- related programs and offering up these lists to parents who come to them for help. If there is a respite care program for your child available in the area that would best suit your needs, or a respite care providers network in your state, these centers will know it and gladly give out the information free of charge. They will also have day programs where your child may come in and play while you talk with a specialist about how you can find respite care services for children or different approaches you can take to care for your special needs child.

Technical Colleges that offer two year degrees in Child Development have young adults who are looking for work experience in their field as well as “work for credit” opportunities. Speaking to the heads of this department will help point you in the direction of focused and energetic young adults who would love to work and learn about your child and apply what they are learning in a real life situation. As long as they know they will be applying for a position that entails respite care for children with disabilities they will come better equipped to handle things and that will give you a sense of security and some time to yourself that is invaluable.

On The Flip Side

If you think you would like to be a provider for respite care for children with disabilities or even become a respite care foster care provider to give foster parents a break, the jobs out there exist. You have to either apply through the county and be heavily scrutinized and exposed to background checks of all kinds, or look for work with a non- profit that does such work. If you really want to make respite care your life’s work for a specific type of special needs child, you may even open up your home to do so, but licensing is brutal and you have to have a completely open book approach to follow this career choice.

If you have a degree in child development that is especially useful and makes it appear that you are serious in your commitment to the children you will host. It’s imperative that you know and understand about developmental disorders like autism and Asperger’s, Down’s and ADHD. Do not walk into this line of work without working knowledge of what to expect thinking that working with these children will be a cake walk; it most definitely isn’t.

Your home must fit with the special physical needs and challenges these children present. It isn’t about having a fenced in yard with an outdoor gym and plenty of toys inside to play with; many times door widths have to be a certain measurement to avoid injury, breakable items need to be completely removed from all rooms, poisons and cleaning chemicals must always be locked up, and sharps like kitchen knives have to be kept out of sight and locked as well. A complete overhaul in your home as well as your mindset has to take place if you plan on doing this in your own home. It takes a very special person to do respite care services for children, and you have to know, not just believe, that you are ready.

Explore more details on “What is Pervasive Developmental Disorder

DSM IV Criteria For Autism

Parents who want to know more about the autism spectrum but simply don’t shelve a copy of the DSM IV (the “bible” for psychologists and psychiatrists) in their public library don’t have to look far. You can check out a copy from your local library, or just sit and page through it if the library keeps it in their reference section of books that stay in the library but don’t go home.

Essentially, what the DSM IV will tell any curious reader about autism is this:

Six measurable areas of marked delay or inappropriate level of functioning for child’s age, which usually and most often include eye to eye contact, social interaction with others, verbal communication, gross motor or fine motor development, peer to peer connections, extreme fixation on specific items or topics, repetitive and focused movements or behaviors, preference for either extreme quiet or extreme noise, “savant” splinter skills, and a few other categories/characteristics.

This is a lot for most parents to process and without the aid of a specially trained and licensed autism psychiatrist, parents should not assume their child has this disorder. A pediatric neurologist is also needed to confirm the neurological alterations in the brain of any child suspected to have autism. Your family doctor can give you the proper referrals for these doctors and their tests.

Learn more about “what are the different types of autism“. Also How to deal “children with autism“.

Characteristics of Autism

Children are diagnosed with autism each and every day. In fact, it is the fastest growing developmental disability in the country. This can be largely due to the fact that the characteristics of autism are more well known today than they were years ago. What are some of the characteristics of autism?

It is important to note that just because you may see one or two of these characteristics in your child does not mean that they are autistic. There are other developmental conditions that share some of the same characteristics. That is why it is so important to have your child evaluated by a professional before jumping to conclusions.

One of the first things that may be noticed is the lack of social interaction. This can include no eye contact, lack of engagement, or not developing relationships with peers. They may be resistant to being held or touched and may prefer being alone over with a group of people.

Another characteristic is communication issues. They may have issues communicating with others via speech or gestures, or may have difficulty understanding what others are saying to them. Autistic children may repeat what others say instead of using their own sentences and may have difficulty starting a conversation or continuing one.

Other characteristics seen in an autistic child are repetition. They may have very repetitive routines and have difficulty with changes in routine. They may spend a great deal of time in repetitive movements, or may show interest in just a few objects or activities and play with them repetitively.

The characteristics of autism can range from mild to severe. The key is to get your child evaluated to determine where on this range that they fall. Then you will be able to get them the support and therapy that they need to be as successful as possible.

What are the types of autism spectrum disorder(ASD) is considered very rare?

What are the types of autism spectrum disorder(ASD) is considered very rare?

Rare Co-occurences of Common Autism Spectrum Diagnosis

For a short while I worked as an Autism Line Therapist. This really aided my sight into the field and allowed for me to be more accepting of my own children’s issues with the autism spectrum. Although there really isn’t a rare type of the disorder, there are rare co-occurrences within the spectrum and other diagnoses.

For instance, given that autism generally means a deficiency within three main areas of development but an increased or heightened ability in others, a co-occurring diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome with autism is rare. Most children born with Down’s have average to lesser than average intelligence levels and intellectual capacities. When this co-occurs with autism the effect is mind-boggling; the child often appears to have average or above intellectual capacities even though the autism mixed with Down’s Syndrome amplifies the difficulties associated with other areas of physical and emotional and social growth and development.

Rhett’s syndrome, which is a genetic disorder linked to the X-chromosome in girls, is estimated to be only 1 in 10,000 to 23,000 births. Because many earlier cases of Rett’s predate the scientific criteria, this is just a guess. It is rarer than autism, which is estimated to be one in every 1,000 births.

Childhood disintegrative disorder is a very baffling and sad disorder. It is even rarer than Rett’s and Asperger’s (.3 births in every 1,000) combined. A normal child can suddenly begin to lose everything they have learned and are capable of doing. Not much can be done for them either.

Kids With Autism

Children with autism are unique in every sense of the word; no two children with autism are exactly alike. Each and every one of them has his or her own set of skills that shine a light on what they know and how they think. Autism was thought to be just a boys’ developmental disorder years ago, but more and more girls are finding their diagnostic spot on the spectrum.

Just like children with mental retardation, the level of functioning in children with autism starts at the very low end and ends with children who almost seem as though there is nothing apparently different between them and the “average” child on the very high end. Because there are so many pieces to the puzzle of Autism and Autism spectrum disorders, children can be deficient in social and gross motor skills but be able to speak. Of course, they can also lack self-help skills, not speak at all, but clearly understand what others around them are saying. In the six areas that children with Autism disorders are measured there is as much of a variance as there is between a pineapple and a kumquat.

Careful observation by parents early on in their child’s development in conjunction with regular well-baby visits to the pediatrician will help catch some delays that may signify a possible disorder is present. However, a pediatric neurologist in conjunction with the services of a autism psychiatric specialist will be the only sure-fire way of verifying a diagnosis of autism. Some children will just be behind their peers and others have autism so it is important to involve these three medical professionals in the determination of autism.

Some people might be surprised at involving a pediatric neurologist, but recent studies have shown that the brains of children with autism are quite different than those of average children. Something in the brain development, either while still in the womb or just before a child turns two alters, and changes the child’s life forever, as well as his parents and extended family. Genetic scientists are working on discovering the origins of autism as it appears to be genetic in some families. (I have one boy and one girl who BOTH have Autism/autism spectrum disorder and two second cousins who also have it).

There is no cure for autism as no one has yet figured out what causes it. One thing is certain; children with autism can be very challenging, but they can also be very loving. Some avoid touch at all while others are so cuddly it’s hard to let go. Their hypersensitivity to everything alters their ability to interact with the rest of the world. Some, one or all of their five senses might be hypersensitive; it’s important to log what bothers them and remember to help them work through their fears and/or develop positive coping mechanisms when around the things they are sensitive to.

Higher functioning children with autism have the “savant” skills that often come to mind when people picture “Rain Man”. Some are hyperlexic, showing a reading ability way above their age or grade level, but may not understand idioms, similes, metaphors and other expressions of speech. Some may excel at math but may have a hard time grasping the concept of three dimensional shapes. In many ways these skills are amazing, but really are what most specialists refer to as “splinter skills”.

No matter what, children need love and support just like everyone else.

Continue to
What is Pervasive Developmental Disorder?

Pervasive Developmental Disorder

What is Pervasive Developmental Disorder

What was once thought to be a more rare condition is fast growing in diagnosis across the country. Specifically, pervasive development disorders are part and parcel of the autism spectrum, and are influencing the way we teach children and diagnose them sooner rather than later. Such disorders include Asperger’s, autism/autism pervasive developmental disorder, Rett’s disorder which commonly affects girls in the very early stages of development and is evident prior to birth, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, or for the ongoing purpose of discussion, abbreviated to PDD-NOS, and child disintegrative disorder.

Pervasive Developmental Disorders are any type of developmental inhibiting disorders which disallow a child to grow and function normally like other children their own chronological age. It is on point here, that chronological is used, as every child develops differently at their own pace, but children with developmental disorders are significantly behind their peers of the same chronological age rather than emotional, mental, physical or intellectual age. Every one of the previously mentioned disorders will, usually by age two, but sooner if more severe, make itself known to the parents and pediatrician who care for the child. In all of these cases social and emotional development are behind, and the child or children diagnosed as such cannot make age appropriate social contact with their parents or even other children. The world around them is too much to handle and they are isolated islands unto themselves.

Rett’s Syndrome

Much more recent education about Autism and Asperger’s has led to a national and international position to study pervasive childhood developmental disorders. For example, Rett’s syndrome, which affects exclusively little girls, has recently been found through genetic study to have a basis in cell mutation, and therefore infant and toddler girls who have this disorder can now be diagnosed much sooner through genetic testing and receive much needed assistance and support faster than they would have without this discovery. Rett’s appears very autistic like in nature at the early onset in that child development seems fairly normal until the child reaches her first or second birthday and the physical, intellectual, verbal and mental deterioration begins. Rett’s is still in contention in the medical field however, with whether or not it can be included in the autism spectrum.

Autism and Asperger

Autism and Asperger’s is still being studied and some believe there is also a possibility of genetic abnormality that occurs in early development. However, fact findings have not yet proved this and the theories of what causes these two similar disorders has not been wheedled down enough to say for sure what causes them. Autism, autism spectrum disorders and types of autism are all important parts of autism education during autism awareness month, which is April of every year since the 1970’s when the first cases of autism were noted in published medical journals. Just think of it; if everyone in the entire world donated a dollar to the research for understanding autism symptoms, signs of autism, causes of autism and treatments for autism, all of the children affected by it could have a cure or a significant progression in their treatment of their disorder. Wouldn’t that be something?

Child Disintegrative Disorder

A more disturbing disorder than any above is child disintegrative disorder. A child develops normally, as is the case with all the other pervasive developmental disorders, but suddenly begins to regress and lose all the abilities they had learned. Some children may even be able to vocalize what is happening to them, which is incredibly frightening for them and their families. In these instances, it is often the child describing hallucinations or other mental issues that would not ordinarily be associated with a toddler or pre-schooler. There are some causes that connect with its onset but nothing specific is thought to cause it directly and completely. Like all pervasive developmental disorders, there is no cure and the only treatments available are therapeutic, although some medications might also be prescribed to handle the psychotic elements and seizures involved with this disorder.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified PDD-NOS

Noticeable delays in development without a diagnosis of the previous four disorders results in a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. This is really a “lump the rest in here” category as most psychiatrists will note the delays but test results will not be able to completely ascertain, genetically or otherwise, what is a solid diagnosis for these children. That’s not to say they don’t meet the criteria for a pervasive disorder or autism/Asperger’s, it’s just a means to verify there are problems but nothing’s completely conclusive.

The total sum of education we have on these disorders is relatively new and all need further extensive research. Research requires money and more time and more money. Awareness brings the money that will, hopefully, bring the answers.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

What Is Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorders are fast becoming the most pervasive child development disability around. More common than Down’s Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy, autism spectrum disorders affect one in every four children in the United States. Out of those children, three out of four will be boys. Because the disorders have numerous conditions affecting child growth and development, no two children with autism are exactly alike and no two children with autism disorders have the same issues. It’s a complicated spectrum which requires numerous specialists and tests to properly diagnose and confirm the diagnosis. Most children with autism look completely normal from birth, and there is no prenatal test to check for the disorders, which only complicates the process as no pediatrician can look at a child and readily see that he or she will develop an autism disorder.
what is autism

Types of Autism

Because it’s difficult to determine just where on the spectrum a child with autism falls, there are several sets of diagnostic criteria as well as four major categories of autism. The four major categories of autism are: Autism, Aspergers, Autism Spectrum Affective Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified or PDD-NOS. In all cases children start their development after birth at a reasonably normal rate. Some might be slightly slower than their peers but since a child’s developmental markers are met at a slightly different age for every child, this is not an immediate concern. It becomes a concern however when the child in question can’t smile, focus on objects, sit up or walk, or interact with parents by the time he is a year to a year and a half old. Routine well baby visits with a pediatrician will help document whether the child is developing normally or should be referred to a specialist. Since many of these issues can also be attributed to other developmental delay disorders, all the other disorders have to be ruled out before Autism is considered. Read in details about, “types of autism

Autism Symptoms

What are the characteristics of autism? Straight up, “run of the mill” Autism addresses delays in more than one important area of development and usually has to be present in two to three areas for an extended and well-documented period of time. Children with Autism of the “regular” variety have speech delays and communication issues, either in their receptive or expressive communication, or both. They may be nonverbal all together, or they may make noises like humming, screaming, whining, or something akin to wordless singing. Conversely they will also exhibit advanced academic skills beyond that of children of the same chronological age. Repetitive movements like rocking on stationary furniture, spinning nonstop, wringing or flapping of the hands are characteristic of a child with autism and are done as a means of self stimulation and sensory input. Delays in toilet training, walking, running, throwing a ball, etc. are also possible as the muscle groups haven’t found a way to work together that the child with autism both understands and is comfortable with.
autism symptoms chart
A child with autism may also be sensory defensive, i.e., sounds, tastes, textures, sights, and smells may overwhelm and hyper stimulate them or the opposite end is also true where the child can’t make things loud enough(even though their hearing is excellent) or soft enough, or hard enough, or the texture of their food needs to be coarser or the tub water needs to be slightly less than tepid before they’ll get in. This has a lot to do with the fact that children with autism lack effective sensory filters and can’t filter and process everything separately. They may also be extremely picky eaters or suffer from pica, an eating disorder where unusual substances like dirt, oil, metal or other potentially harmful things are consumed if not removed from their reach. Fixations similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder that last from a few weeks to a few years are not uncommon either.

Asperger In Children

The child with Asperger’s on the other hand, will appear to develop in a completely normal fashion, hitting all the right development marks and even learning to speak at the right time. Speech is the biggest component in diagnostics when it comes down to assessing whether a child has autism or Asperger’s. The easiest thing to remember about the two is that Asperger’s children speak when they’re supposed to, children with autism do not. Because children with Asperger’s are not diagnosed until later in life because their developmental milestones are all hit on time, it makes it significantly harder to provide corrective therapy for them. Usually a parent will notice that their child of eight or nine doesn’t get along with his peers or that they have very few, if any, friends. Unlike a child with autism who doesn’t make eye contact a child with Asperger’s will, but it is often unsustainable and lasts seconds to a minute or two. They have trouble with expressions of speech, metaphors, idioms, and similes, which higher functioning and verbal children with autism also encounter. Language has to be direct and free of these types of verbal expression in order for these children to be understood and to understand those addressing them. It can be very frustrating for friends and family to alter the way they think and talk in order to make themselves understood to children with Aspbergers and high-functioning autism, but habitually it gets easier.

Probably the most frightening thing for parents of children with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism is when their child or children develop aggressive behaviors that are either hurtful to the child himself or to others. Forty years ago, such behaviors landed them in an institution; now early intervention and therapy can really help. It is still a good idea, however, to keep potential weapons out of the reach of children who are expressing anger and frustration with acts of violence. “who diagnoses Asperger’s?

Autism Spectrum Affective Disorders are argued by professionals to not exist. They feel that the child has to fall into a more specific category and level of functioning. Most times this diagnosis is only used in conjunction with a primary diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome or other more prominent and serious developmental delay. Thus the children with this secondary or tertiary diagnosis exhibit autism like behaviors, such as high intelligence quotients, hyperlexia, or outstanding rote memory skills in conjunction with diagnoses that should involve mental retardation.

Finally, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS abbreviated, is the diagnosis handed to children who obviously fall within the spectrum but not enough evidence exists to make a clear cut diagnosis between Asperger’s and autism itself. Oftentimes little girls, who typically are thought to not be able to develop autism as it has been seen as a “boys’ developmental delay disorder”, but still exhibit autistic tendencies like their brothers or male peers will be diagnosed as PDD-NOS. As the child grows and his or her development can be more readily documented and tested by professionals, this diagnosis is changed to something more specific or dropped all together if it seems the child was just delayed for other causes and has caught up to his or her peers. Children who are diagnosed with PDD-NOS have a lot of the earmarks for autism or Asperger’s; delayed physical development, delayed social development, delayed language or ability to adequately express themselves, self-abuse or abuse of others, and significant hyper development of academics.

What to Do When Your Child is Diagnosed With Autism
finding out your child has autism
So what can be done if you discover that your child has an autism spectrum disorder? Lots, if it’s diagnosed early and you have plenty of medical documentation to back it up. Even high-functioning children with autism can get Federal Social Security and Disability Income, if the evidence shows that they problems they face are severe enough to interfere with everyday activities. Also, every state is a little different, but long term care waivers for children with autistic disorders have to be applied for before the child turns seven, eight or nine. These waivers then allow for long term care to be planned for and planned ahead, and in-home intensive therapy sessions with specially trained therapists aid the family, as well as the child into coping, managing and growing into a fairly well-adjusted and potentially productive adult, depending on the severity of the disorder and the patience, persistence and training of the therapist.

Some states will also add funds to the Federal SSDI funds every month for families that struggle financially and/or have more than one child with special needs. This fiscal assistance, in turn, helps parents find suitable childcare if they work or respite when they need a break from the challenges of the day with their child. The money is also used to shelter, care for, clothe, feed, and supply the child with an autistic spectrum disorder anything else they would need during the year, including co-pays for medicine and doctors’ visits. This makes a big impact on how children with these needs can stay at home rather than being institutionalized like they were so many years ago. “Can i get paid to take care of my autistic child?” or”Can I get SSI for my autistic child?

Many children with autism are also mainlined into the public schools now. This means that, if they can understand, talk and learn they spend time more inside a standard classroom than they do in a special education room. This aids them in learning the social skills they need to function later on and they are more of intellectual sponges than even their peers. They quickly learn everything and absorb even more because they do not have the filters everyone else has. Obviously then this is both a burden and a gift for them, a two-edged sword that can be managed with a good teacher at the head of the room.

Technology also plays a part in how these children communicate. Because of iPads and Smart Boards, these children can take what was once a paper and velcro system of communicating and apply it through technology. It is obvious to anyone who’s observed them that technology, for whatever reason, makes sense to these kids. Theoretically, it is because technology doesn’t require them to interact with humans nor provide eye contact nor make sense of phrases like “it’s raining cats and dogs” that children with autism spectrum disorders find it so much easier to communicate through and iPad or Smart Board. It does unfortunately defeat the purpose of treating the autism’s social and communicative hindrances, unless the child is completely nonverbal. Will my autistic child ever get better?

What Really Causes Autism

Lastly, it must be said. No one knows what causes autistic disorders. There are several theories but no one has the proof yet. What they do have are brain scans of children and adults with autism that clearly show a difference in structure and size, so medical scientists are working off of that proof to find the cause. In short it is a neurological issue, in that there is brain damage so to speak. There are no medications to prevent it, no medications to treat it, and nothing to cure it. It is more prevalent now, today, because more children are being diagnosed sooner and recorded in the data files of medicine, not that it’s more prevalent because something current is the cause.

The most recent and highly probable theory is that the mothers who have children with autism were extremely stressed and depressed during the pregnancy, which raised certain levels of biochemicals in the body and altered the child’s brain development in utero. There appears to be some link genetically as well, as some families have more than one child affected by an autistic spectrum disorder. There remains an insurmountable task by medical researchers to sift through all the true evidence and weed out the junk science to find that which causes the brains of these children to stop growing and functioning normally. With the advancements of genetic maps of genomes and hereditary conditions, as with Rhett’s Syndrome, which has been determined to have genetic marker codes and thought by some doctors to be part of the Autism Spectrum disorders, there will no doubt one day be an answer to the bizarre and confusing riddle that is Autism Spectrum Disorders, and hopefully a cure or prevention will follow.

Written by,
Kylie White