Autism is a developmental disability which affects approximately 1 in 100 people in Australia.
According to Autism Queensland, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition more common than cerebral palsy, diabetes, deafness, blindness and leukaemia put together.
ASD affects the way a person communicates, and interacts socially. A child diagnosed with ASD will also experience restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours, as well as sensory sensitivities.
Signs of possible Autism Spectrum Disorder can be observed very early in life.
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder may experience difficulties in: (list non-exhaustive)
- Delayed language;
- Unusual ways of making themselves understood (for example, they may use their parent’s hand to indicate what they want)l
- Appear not to hear;
- Ignore others around them;
- Monotone voice;
- Difficulties in initiating and sustaining a conversation.
- Does not enjoy playing with other children;
- Does not interact;
- Prefer doing things alone;
- Do not respond appropriately to people’s smiles;
- Limited eye gaze.
Cognition and Behaviour
- Unusual routine/rituals;
- Difficulties in adapting when routines are interrupted;
- Sensory issues (e.g., texture, loud noise and smell);
- Strong special interest;
- Repetitive body movements;
- Eventual learning difficulties,
It is important to note that every child or adolescent with autism is different.
What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder?
An exact cause has yet to be identified but few risk factors have been mentioned in the research literature. It could potentially be due to a combination of factors:
- Prenatal and perinatal factors;
- Environmental factors.
Although there is no cure, research shows that early intervention with professionals such as psychologists, speech and languages therapists and occupational therapists, is paramount. Early intervention, education and support are crucial in enabling children with autism to lead fulfilling lives and achieve their full potential.
ASD used to be the umbrella for Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. It has now changed in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in favour of a diagnosis of ASD with different levels of severity. The level of impairment in children diagnosed with ASD can vary greatly, with some children being mildly impaired and others being severely disabled.
If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, please feel free to book an appointment with me to discuss your concerns.
Author: Meggy Delaunay, PG Dip Psych Practice, PG Dip Dev Psych, M Genetic Psych, B Psych, MAPS.
Meggy Delaunay is a psychologist who mostly works with children, adolescents and young adults. She is a registered Psychologist in Australia, New Zealand and France, and is fluent in both English and French.
Please call 1800 877 924 to make an appointment or find out how to book online with Meggy Delaunay now!