Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

ASD is a neurological disorder that often makes it hard to communicate with and relate to others which are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behavior.

Children may have difficulties communicating verbally, use echolalic (repeat back what they hear) speech, or have difficulty with non-verbal communication.  Social interactions and relationships or play with peers is often affected and behaviors can be seen as restricted, or inflexible.  Children with ASD often have unusual interest and can be obsessive compulsive in nature.

ASD is diagnosed formally diagnosed by a psychologist or neurologist and the treatment of ASD involves a multi-disciplinary approach including doctors, speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and/or ABA therapist as well as a strong educational program.  This comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach that focuses on the child’s individual needs, together with the participation of the parents, will ensure greater success and outcomes.

Early Intervention

Early intervention is highly recommended and supported with insurance based and community resources.  Autism can diagnosed in infancy but typically around 18 months into toddler or early elementary aged children.  This is important as treatment can take full advantage of the child’s young brain’s plasticity and ability to learn.  Early treatment helps a child develop important skills to reduce some of the symptoms and regardless age can help the child reach their full potential while supporting the family unit.  Children with ASD tend to respond better to highly structured and specialized treatment programs that focus on communication, social, behavioral, and independent living skills.

Red Flags of Developmental Delays and/or ASD may include:

  • Delayed speech and language skills (e.g. not talking) by 18 mos or 2 years of age
  • Limited or no pointing to gain attention or to request by 14 months
  • Uses few or no gestures (e.g., does not wave goodbye)
  • Have trouble understanding emotions
  • Repeat words (e.g. echolalia)
  • Have obsessive interests (e.g. lines up toys or plays the same way)
  • Seek sensory input (e.g. flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles)
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

Red Flags of Social Deficits may include:

  • Prefers to play alone or has limited play (e.g. difficulty making friends)
  • Difficulty or inconsistent to respond to name (e.g. difficulty shifting attention)
  • Difficulty engaging in social games (e.g. peek a boo)
  • Limited shared interests with others (e.g. reading books together or singing songs)
  • Fleeting moments of social interactions (e.g. difficult to keep attention)
  • Can be difficulty to comfort when upset
  • Has trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about own feelings

At Kara Dodds & Associates we use a variety of approaches to teach children with ASD including PECS, Hanen techniques, Visual Helpers, Visual Schedules, Sensory Integration therapy, and more.  If you believe your child would benefit from our therapy services please contact us at 619.692.0622 or click the button below to set up an appointment.

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