I think my child has Autism: What should I do?

If you suspect your child has Autism (a developmental disorder characterized by difficulty with social skills, communication, and behaviour), you can find information from various resources and professionals. Best advice; consult the specialist.

 

Where do I start?

Trust your self. You know that as a parent you want the best for your child.

  • Talk to a professional. Family doctor or pediatrician. He/She may conduct a developmental screening and may refer you to a specialist for an evaluation.
  • Write everything down. Including questions, concerns, etc. You want to have information, such as examples of behaviour or lack of communication, to support your concern when talking with a professional.
  • Ask lots of questions. There’s a lot of information about Autism and you are not expected to know it all. If a doctor tells you not to worry, ask if and when you should start to worry and why.
  • Start early. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get help. If your child does have Autism, you want to start intervention services as soon as possible. Early intervention services can help and enhance a child’s development.

 

What if I don’t know exactly what to look for?

  • Remember that every child develops emotional, cognitive (thinking), and physical skills at different rates. However, here are some signs to look for if you think that your child might have Autism.
  • No or few expressions (i.e not smiling when smiled at).
  • No or minimal eye contact.
  • Insistence on routine; apprehensive to change.
  • Dislike of being touched.
  • Abnormal obsession or attachment to specific object.
  • Any lost of speech, bubbling, or social skills at any age.

       

Who can diagnose Autism?

  • Child Psychiatrist – Doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorder in children.
  • Child Psychologist – Professional who assesses mental health problems and provide psychological care and intervention for children.
  • Developmental Pediatrician – Doctor who assesses suspected developmental delays in language, cognitive, and motor areas.
  • Pediatric Neurologist – Doctor who diagnoses and treats disorders seizures, muscular weakness, head injury and development.
  • Other professionals who may help assess a child skills and abilities and share finding with the team are:
  • Speech – Language Pathologist – Assesses and treats verbal and non verbal communication and pragmatic (social skills).
  • Occupational Therapist – Focuses on sensory issues, fine and gross motor skills, play and social and personal skills required for independent living.

 My child has Autism. Now what?

Remember to enjoy everyday with your child. It’s easy to get caught up in a diagnosis and forget about important things in life. Every child is unique and has special gifts. Most importantly, know you are not alone. Take advantage of resources and seek out professionals who can guide you.

  What is Sensory Integration (SI)?

Sensory Integration, is the process by which the brain receives information from the direct five senses (vision, hearing, movement, touch, taste), and interprets it so we can respond in an appropriate, effective, and meaningful way. if this neurological process becomes disrupted then normal development and adaptive responses will not be achieved. As a result, learning, physical and emotional development, as well as behavior may be affected.  

What does Sensory Integration Difficulties look like? 

It can affect an individual in only one-sense or multiple -senses. A child with SID  might overreact to sensations and find light, sound, contact, or food to be unbearable. It also causes an individual not to react to stimuli (e.g., not reacting to loud sounds). 

 In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints are impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. Some other children crave for more sensations. Those kids are often  misdiagnosed and inappropriately medicated for ADHD. 

Do all children under Autism spectrum have Sensory Integration difficulties?

It is believed that 95% of children on the spectrum have sensory integration difficulties. Children on the spectrum typically have a different way of perceiving the environment. This different sensory perception can interfere with the child’s ability to learn, interact with the environment, handle unpredictable situation, and socialize with peers. 

Can Sensory Integration Difficulties be cured?

SID can’t  be fully cured. However, with Occupational Therapy and other related interventions the symptoms can be lessened. OT utilizes Sensory Integration therapy to help these children manage and master environment as best as possible.   

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