Finding the Help you Need for your Autistic Child
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a disorder that can be difficult to first diagnose as individuals have certain strengths and weaknesses that can mask the developmental disability. In fact, it can often go undiagnosed throughout childhood, only for it to be identified in adulthood. To say it can be frustrating for parents to understand how autism affects their children, and finding autism resources, is an understatement. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 27 boys is diagnosed with autism compared to 1 in 116 girls.
What Exactly is Autism?
As an educator, I have experienced more than a dozen students who have been diagnosed with autism, and just like with snowflakes, no two of these students have displayed the same abilities and problems.
Autism is a broad range of conditions where the individual can be challenged with repetitive behavior, speech difficulties, lower IQ, troubling social skills, completely nonverbal, and obsessive interests. (For instance, one of my 4th-grade students with autism probably could have challenged many archaeologists with his knowledge of dinosaurs. Almost all the books he read and programs he watched in his free time had to be about dinosaurs.)
It is believed that genetics has much to do with autism. To put it simply, it is something you are born with. Furthermore, if parents have a child with autism, there is a slightly higher chance that their other children may have it as well. In addition, the chances of having a child with autism increase if the baby is born to older parents, parents with immune system disorders, is born prematurely, has maternal obesity, or has prenatal exposure to certain pollutants and toxins.
How Early Can Autism be Diagnosed?
When placed in the proper early childhood education facility with professionals that have encountered autism previously, children can be diagnosed as early as two-years-old. However, several children are still being diagnosed after four years old. The severity of the disorder and where the child falls on the spectrum can either make it a simple diagnosis, or it can take some testing to identify it adequately.
The term “spectrum” is always attached to autism when being discussed. As a spectrum disorder, autism can manifest differently depending on the person. Some people might show some of the conditions at varying degrees, while others could show almost all of the characteristics with it being quite severe.
Autism is an interesting disorder. For instance, 44 percent of children with autism have IQ levels in the average to above-average range. Furthermore, 25 percent are considered to have an average IQ—however, 31 percent score under the average IQ level. In the long run, there are those afflicted with autism that requires little to no special support and can live their lives without a problem. Still, some will need significant support day in and day out.
There are plenty of autism resources for those diagnosed with autism. And while there is no “cure,” remember to have patience and work with professionals who understand the disorder.
One of the keys is to receive an early diagnosis so interventions can begin while the child is very young. Early interventions can allow the child and family to work with or around the difficulties associated with the disorder.
Most school districts around the nation will have educators familiar with the struggles sometimes associated with autism and can offer plenty of support throughout the child’s educational career.
In addition, there are plenty of autism resource centers with professionals ready and willing to work with the individuals and their families. These resource centers can provide general information, suggest various therapies that may prove beneficial, and offer educational resources.
One of the top autism resource centers is provided by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. They offer research and training to those interested, clinical resources, books, videos, and much more.
While the autism resources above is more for the national level, numerous resource centers can provide autism support locally around the country. A quick search can yield more than a dozen such facilities close to you.