Autism Awareness Month

In honour of Autism Awareness Month, we would like to share some important facts about Autism Spectrum in the hope to provide you with some insight into the life of someone with autism. Understanding it and looking out for the signs is important.

Autism Spectrum is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that affects a person's ability to communicate, interact with others and with the world around them. There is no fully understood cause of autism, but structured early intervention, therapy and education can make a significant difference. The quality of life for an individual with autism is largely improved by an early diagnosis and evidence-based interventions.

Although in Australia we have come a long way in raising awareness and accepting individuals with autism into society, there is still a stigma that surrounds it. This can especially be observed with parents who have children with autism. They may experience others looking at them as their child is misbehaving and begin to feel embarrassed or judged by them. This is another reason why early diagnosis and intervention is important. 

Autism spectrum has different levels, which can be described as mild, moderate and severe. Where it ranges from those requiring some support to those requiring very substantial support. Children or adults with autism specifically have difficulties with integrating to the world around them. This may come across as them being weird, rude or anti-social to others who are unaware of their diagnosis, or what it means, but to them it’s their way of life.

Generally, autism is detected early on in childhood during a child’s developmental years, where most of the time unusual behaviours are observed by the parents, teachers or others around. Below are some red flags to look out for:

1.   Social interaction– takes little interest in others, lacks eye contact, doesn’t enjoy interacting with others, and difficulties understanding other’s emotions

2.   Communication– Delayed speech and communication skills

3.   Behaviours– Repetitive, and /or unusual behaviours (eg; flapping hands)

4.   Sensory– Sensitive and/or having unexpected reactions to sounds, tastes, sights, touch and smells, but quite high pain tolerance 

5.   Motor– Quite coordinated gross motor abilities (eg; walking), but very low fine motor abilities (eg; using fingers to grasp small items)

6.   Emotional– Upset by minor changes, likes routine. Emotional regulation difficulties

7.   Obsessed by a small range of interests or objects

8.   Children not responding to their name by around 12 months and not pointing at distant objects at around 14 months

It’s important to remember that children reach developmental stages at different times, and children have different ways of expressing themselves. So, for example, it doesn’t mean that your child would meet criteria for a diagnosis if they don’t look into people’s eyes - they could just be shy or have other stuff going on.

However, if you are concerned that your child or someone you know are showing signs of autism, or feel as though you need support, then give us a call to make an appointment with one of our team of Psychologists.

Or if you feel that your child has some difficulties with communication and interaction, please come in and see one of our speech pathologists.