Autism and Assessment 

The features of autism often appear during early childhood, and a reliable diagnosis is usually possible at the age of 2 years. 

However, many people do not receive a diagnosis until much later. Sometimes, having an early diagnosis helps enable a child to get support during their developmental years that will benefit them throughout their life. 

The features of autism vary widely, but if a parent or caregiver has concerns about a child’s reactions or behavior, they should seek help and advice. 

There is no one test for autism, but doctors and psychologists will use behavioral assessments, questionnaires, observations, and criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to determine whether ASD is present. 

They will also need to rule out other possible causes of some behaviors and symptoms seen in ASD, such as hearing loss

Support 

ASD is a lifelong condition, but various interventions can help people manage the challenges they may face. 

Medication and therapy can help with 

  • speech development 
  • social interaction 
  • epilepsy 
  • depression 
  • OCD 
  • sleep disturbances 
  • behavioral challenges 

A multidisciplinary team comprising ASD specialists, speech therapists, teachers, and psychologists can work with the individual and their parents or caregivers to provide support. 

Strategies and skills 

Autistic people may behave in ways that appear unusual to others. In fact, these behaviors — for example, performing a repetitive movement — are most likely to be strategies for helping them cope when they feel overwhelmed. 

These behaviors may be ways for a person to: 

  • protect themselves from an environment that feels overwhelming 
  • manage their emotions 
  • establish a sense of order 

Neurotypical people may not understand these reactions, which can lead to the person feeling isolated and distressed. 

Parents, caregivers, and others can maximize a child’s quality of life by learning about ASD and providing support. 

For instance, they can help by

  • learning how ASD affects the child 
  • accepting that while an autistic person may be different than a neurotypical person, they are still a complete person with their own strengths and weaknesses 
  • being consistent in routines and rules 
  • building on the child’s strengths and interests 
  • researching and building up a support network 
  • following routines where possible 
  • planning and preparing for changes in advance 
  • avoiding overstimulating environments where possible or introducing them gradually 
  • encouraging cooperative behavior by setting limits and offering choices 
  • listening to autistic people who speak and write about their experiences 

They can also work with the child to find out: 

  • what triggers a reaction 
  • what reactions are likely to occur and when 
  • what they enjoy and dislike 
  • how they best communicate 
  • how they prefer to learn 
  • what their strengths and weaknesses are 

Link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323758 

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