There are many different forms of autism and consequently, there is a wide variation in the kinds of symptoms experienced by children with ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to the latest estimates from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one8-year old child out of 68 in the U.S. has been identified with autism spectrum disorder, a statistic that represents a 30% increase in the prevalence rate previously reported by the same institution.
People on the autism spectrum tend to have varying degrees and/or combinations of symptoms and so treatment must be tailored very specifically to the individual. It is also important to keep in mind that people with autism vary widely in their needs, skills and abilities — which is why a speech language pathologist can help customize a mitigation plan that is just right for your child.
While autism appears to be rising is unclear whether the growing number of diagnoses indicates a real increase in cases or improved detection by parents, teachers and professional healthcare workers. Early diagnosis is important in early treatment and how a child with autism can make significant improvements in language and social skills.
Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorders affect three distinct areas of a child’s life:
- Social interaction
- Communication — both verbal and nonverbal
- Behaviors and interests
The development of ASD in a child is often delayed and some children appear to develop normally before experiencing a sudden loss of social or language skills. For other special or unusual behaviours (such as spending hours lining up toys) are often the dominant factors. The right speech language pathologist will — along with your family doctor’s diagnosis — determine the severity of the condition, and help to mitigate social and behavioural problems through applied behaviour analysis (also known as ABA). The speech language clinicians at a speech language pathology centre such Simone Friedman SLS will use both naturalistic (play and interaction) and formal behaviour modification (ABA, IBI) to help people with ASD to develop new social and behavioural skills.
Some of the skills worked on include:
- Communication (the ability to use and understand language)
- Social skills (the ability to understand and engage in interactions and situations)
- Behaviour (attention to face restrictions and emotions and sensory problems)
- Motor skills (using the body and hands)
- Cognition (learning concepts such as shapes, colors)
- Hygiene and Self Help (bath, toilet, etc.)
- Life Skills (housework, planning, money skills)
At an ABA/IBI clinic, clinicians are on hand daily and there are often a number of programs available that cater to your child’s specific needs. If you choose to enroll your child in such a program, make sure classes are capped at no more than 6 children, to ensure individual attention. Also be sure that the program is led by an expert SLP with at least ten years’ experience and that support will be provided by a Communication Disorders Assistant.If you live in Toronto, consider the STAR School at Simone Friedman SLS – a full-dayor half-day intensive ABA Program offered on Wednesdays. Call now for more info.