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What is ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurotype that affects behaviour patterns and how a person interacts with others and experiences their environment. Autism is a variety of neurological differences in interaction and behaviour and affects people differently. This is why ASD is described as a "spectrum." Unique Community Services embraces and celebrates everyone's unique differences, helping people living with ASD thrive and live independent lives.

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological difference that impacts how a person thinks, perceives the environment, and socialises with others. Autism also affects how a person communicates with the world around them.

Autism describes a diverse group of people that have a unique set of skills and interests. It is a lifelong condition, and its characteristics can be presented in a wide variety of combinations.

Defining Autism Spectrum Disorder adequately is complex. The definition has been refined over the years, but there are still many misconceptions about Autism. One common misconception is that all people with Autism face the same challenges. This is inaccurate. ASD is a spectrum disorder, and each person with Autism has distinct strengths and skills.

Signs of Autism

The first signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder can be visible during the first months of a baby’s life. However, in most cases, the signs can be spotted between ages 2-4.

The signs can vary from child to child; not all children on the Autism spectrum will have every symptom.

Some children don’t have Autism but display some behaviours most commonly seen in children with ASD. Toddlers show developmental differences, mostly in their social and language skills.

In addition to speech and language differences, parents can notice changes in how their child interacts with peers during early childhood. Early diagnosis leads to helpful support later in life.

Signs of Autism in Children

We all have differences in how we think and what we enjoy. We also communicate differently. The same goes for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Each child with Autism has a different set of strengths and skills that are unique to each person. One child with ASD will not have the same symptoms as another child with ASD.

However, the most common signs in children diagnosed with ASD include the following:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Repetitive behaviour
  • Not pointing to objects
  • Not responding to name
  • Difficulty understanding social interaction
  • Difficulty reading facial expressions
  • Difficulty engaging with other children and playing games
  • Difficulty in building relationships

Autistic children, on the other hand, are:

  • Great visual learners
  • Remember facts and events faster
  • Like problem-solving, maths and puzzles
  • Like figuring out how things work
  • Following a routine

Following a routine and interacting with the world from another perspective are fantastic skills that often lead to innovative solutions to problems.  

Signs of Autism in Adults

Recognising Autism Spectrum Disorder in adults often comes through self-reflection. The signs present themselves in each person differently.

Autism in adults is generally recognised by social communication difficulties and repetitive behaviour. The signs tend to be more prominent in emotional patterns, interests, and sensitivities to smell, touch and noise.

Some of the other common signs include:

  • The feeling of not belonging to a particular group of people
  • Highly sensitive to the environment
  • High levels of empathy
  • Feeling overwhelmed by loud noises, lights and sounds
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Repetitive behaviours

Some other symptoms and signs include:

  • Having an exceptional memory
  • Being detail orientated
  • Follows routines and schedules with ease
  • Great at problem-solving
  • Good sense levels of contraction

Autistic adults have a wide range of skills and strengths. Learning to embrace their strengths and identify the challenges around them can be beneficial.

ASD Diagnosis

Getting an autism diagnosis for children can help parents understand their children’s needs and find ways to support them better.

On the other hand, adults often suspect having an Autism Spectrum Disorder before they are diagnosed as they feel set apart from their peers. A diagnosis often comes as a relief. All of the experiences and interactions will start to make sense and can bring a sense of clarity.

Diagnosing ASD as an adult will include a clinician discussing the person’s interactions, emotions and family history. Sometimes a diagnostic and statistical manual on mental disorders can be used for evaluation. Every child and adult has unique strengths to draw upon, so it is essential to focus even on the most subtle signs that can help get a diagnosis faster.

What Causes Autism?

Nobody knows the cause of Autism. We do know that Autism is a neurotype – a neurological difference that can impact behaviour and interaction.

Researchers have questioned whether Autism Spectrum Disorder stems from genetic and nongenetic factors, but there is no known cause yet. In the past, there was a fear that environmental factors and vaccines could cause Autism, which has been heavily disproven.

Therapies and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Since Autism is a spectrum disorder, no one-size-fits-all treatment or therapy exists.

There’s no standardised treatment for ASD, but there are ways to alleviate ASD symptoms and enhance strengths and abilities. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder have the best chance of using their abilities and skills with the appropriate therapies. These treatments are different for each person, highly structured, and tailored to the person’s specific needs.

Also, there are a lot of resources to learn about planning, treatment options and therapy from the National Autism Society that can help find the best approach.

Behavioural Management Therapy

Every treatment plan should be tailored to address the person’s specific abilities and needs. The plan can include behavioural treatments based on the idea that all behaviour is learned and acquired.

Therefore, therapists encourage positive and wanted behaviour, focus on the people’s unique abilities and skills and use various techniques to emphasise positive behaviour.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive behaviour therapy manages problems by changing ways of thinking and behaving. The main goal of this method is to emphasise positive thinking and behaviour by creating patterns in a healthy and beneficial way.

Educational and School-Based Therapies

Education is an integral part of every child’s life. That’s why the educational system needs to be inclusive of children with Autism and help them shape their unique characteristics through play and sensory toys.

Parents and care providers need to have a voice in the educational process and work on educational planning to address the wide range of skill development for children with Autism. This type of therapy focuses on language and speech skills, social skills and self-advocacy.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy helps adults and children with Autism to work on their everyday skills used around the home or at school, such as dressing up, feeding and more. The goal of occupational therapy is to improve daily living skills.

Also, the therapeutic model focuses on the individuals’ needs and strengths. For some, performing chores around the home will be simple, and others can even find satisfaction in completing the tasks around the home.

Autism as Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity explains the diversity of human minds and brains as an endless variation in neurocognitive operation among people. Neurodiversity is a term focusing on the idea that Autism, other spectrum disorders, mental health issues and various developmental conditions are differences to be accepted rather than diseases that need curing.

Neurodiversity sees Autism as a neurological difference or a new and unique way of thinking and experiencing the world around us.

Autism and Intelligence

Many researchers call Autism a “disorder of increased intelligence” after results pointed to a positive genetic correlation between autism genes and mental ability measures. The data shows high IQ and Autism shares a set of features such as:

  • Faster brain growth
  • Larger brain size
  • Increased sensory abilities
  • Increased attentional focus
  • Visual and spatial abilities
  • Greater synaptic function

Most people, when they think of Autism, likely consider the challenges related to the condition. However, what some don’t realise is that there are people with Autism who are geniuses and excel in different areas, from music to technology and mathematics.

Autism Related Conditions

Autism can sometimes be diagnosed alongside other conditions. Supporting people with more than one condition in a way that will meet their needs is essential. However, understanding that the needs that arise from having Autism are distinct.

The most common related conditions to Autism include:

The experience of Autism is not one single thing. Focusing on conditions and symptoms prevents others from seeing the many talents, dreams and passions that people with Autism have.

PBS And Autism

PBS, or Positive Behaviour Support, is an evidence-based, person-centred approach to identifying people’s support needs. It is most commonly used to support people with Autism, learning disabilities and challenging behaviours.

The clinicians at Unique Community Services understand that challenging behaviours happen for a reason. Through assessing each person that needs support, our team uses the PBS approach to facilitate the understanding of such behaviour and develop a care plan around it.

PBS offers a way to develop solutions that focus on people’s strengths and abilities and ultimately improve the quality of life and maximise people’s potential.

How Unique Community Services Supports People With ASD

At Unique Community Services, we support people with complex care needs differently. We provide person-centred care for people with ASD in the comfort of their own homes. Our clinicians offer humanised care and treat every person with patience, compassion and loyalty.

Our clinicians are trained to focus on people’s unique strengths and characteristics to help them thrive and embrace their differences. Our approach aims to improve the quality of life and help people be as independent as possible.

Our care also involves Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) as a framework that recognises the importance of seeing, understanding and caring for individuals who display behaviour that challenges. Our clinicians aim to identify the root causes of such behaviours and provide appropriate support that respects their dignity and promotes their well-being and quality of life.

If you are looking for a clinician for yourself or a loved one with ASD, Unique Community Services is the right choice. Contact us today via email or phone.

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Tamara

A seasoned SEO Content Writer with more than five years of writing experience in the healthcare industry. She derives value from creating high-quality content that spreads awareness about mental health and people’s well-being.

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