How psychologists help with AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects behavior, communication and social functioning. Psychologists provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment of ASD.
Autism is a developmental disability which can be diagnosed at three levels, 1,2,3, which reflects the severity. Appearing within the first three years of life, autism involves impairments in social interaction — such as being aware of other people’s feelings — and verbal and nonverbal communication.
Autistic persons have limited interests, eccentric or repetitive behaviors, and at times engage in self and/or other injurious behaviors, such as head banging, biting, pulling hair.
ASD symptoms/behaviors exist along a spectrum or range. Various levels of support are needed based on the unique strengths and weaknesses of the autistic individual. This may include educational, occupational, and activities of daily living intervention and continuous supervision. It is not uncommon for an individual to have co-occurring intellectual and speech deficits and require extensive support and assistance throughout their life. ASD has various symptoms; however, a diagnosis characterized by repetitive behaviors and eccentricities with social interaction and communication.
EARLY SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Limited to no eye contact beginning in infancy
Absence of babbling or pointing in infancy
Indifferent to respond to one’s name or share in enjoyment
Deterioration of language or social skills, during the early years of life
Hyper/Hypo responses to sensory input (e.g. hot or cold water)
Repetitive/Eccentric movements such as rocking, twirling or flapping arms
Indifferent to playing with or interacting with peers
Flat/disengaged in articulating feelings
Aloof or unaware of signals in tone of voice, body language and gestures
Obsessive interest in a topic or item
Rigid in routine, may decompensate or act out
SEEING A PSYCHOLOGIST
A thorough psychological assessment facilitates treatment as it highlights the strengths to build upon and opportunities to refine. One can work very hard in treatment, but if you don’t know where you are going or striving for, the efforts may be frustrating.
Every individual with Autism needs personalized treatment and a good psychological assessment offers this structure and landmarks to work towards. Psychologists can make recommendations based on intellectual, behavioral, emotional and academic areas. Very often a treatment plan is developed. Treatment plans are necessary and Applied Behavior Analysts utilize this framework for intervention.
Autism is lifelong, but early intervention is key to maximize potential and quality of life. As the individual moves along the developmental continuum, new treatment strategies may be put into place to ensure success.