How Psychologists Help with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
An estimated 1 in 68 children in the US have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects behavior, communication and social functioning. ASD can be diagnosed at three levels, which reflects the severity. Appearing within the first three years of life, ASD involves impairments in social interaction — such as being aware of other people’s feelings — and verbal and nonverbal communication. 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.
Although ASD can be diagnosed as early as 15 to 18 months of age, the average age of diagnosis is about 4.5 years. Research has shown that intensive early intervention can make a big difference in the outcomes for people with ASD. If you suspect your child shows signs of the disorder, don’t put off testing.
Applied behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy has been shown to improve communication, social and vocational skills.
Common Signs Include;
• No babbling or pointing in infancy
• Limited to no eye contact beginning in infancy
• Indifferent to share in enjoyment
• Deterioration of language/social skills
• Hyper/Hypo responses to sensory input (e.g. hot or cold water)
• Repetitive movements like rocking, twirling, or flapping arms
• Indifferent to interacting with peers
• Disengaged in articulating feelings
• 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
Treatment and Support
A thorough psychological assessment facilitates treatment, as it highlights the strengths to build upon and opportunities to refine.