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Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Autism Spectrum Disorder

"My child is always running around and is very hyperactive. Is he autistic?"

"My child is very quiet and doesn’t talk too much. He does not mix with friends or plays with them, do you think he has autism?"

"My child does not look at us when we talk to her, is she alright?"

"My child is learning very slowly, is he autistic?"

Many parents get alarmed when their children are not developing according to the normal milestone or are not compatible with their siblings or peers. With the abundance sources and information from the internet, many parents may go ahead of themselves when it comes to the wellbeing of their children.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as the name suggests is a spectrum disorder where the disorder ranges from mild to severe form of presentations. In the mild form, ASD affects an individual minimally with little impact on their everyday functioning. In the severe form, ASD not only have an impact on an individual’s everyday functioning, but also affects the wellbeing and quality life of the immediate family members. According to The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), individual with ASD presents with the below core symptoms, level of severity depends.

A. Fulfilling 3 of 3 symptoms below:

• Deficit in social-emotional reciprocity; abnormal social approach; incapable in normal conversation of sharing interests, emotions; lack of initiation of social interaction.

• Deficit in nonverbal communicative behaviors such as eye contact and body language; lack of facial expression or gestures.

• Difficulty developing and maintaining relationship.

B. Fulfilling 2 of 4 symptoms below:

• Repetitive speech, motor movements, or use of objects.

• Excessive adherence to routines, be it verbal or nonverbal behavior; excessive resistance to change.

• Highly restricted interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus.

• Hyper or hypo sensitive to environment.

C. Symptoms should be present in early childhood

D. Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning

Asperger Syndrome was a sub-diagnosis for ASD but is no longer the case according to the latest DSM-5. While individuals with Asperger Syndrome share similar traits with those of ASD, they have greater brain connectivity allowing them to excel in terms of academic and psychological functioning. Individual with Asperger Syndrome can grow into independent adults, but may continue to have difficulty in social relationships and personal interactions.

Asperger individuals may present with the below symptoms:

  1. Good verbal skill but poor communication skills.
  2. Average or above average intelligence.
  3. Obsession with certain objects or topics; repetitive movements.
  4. Poor coordination or motor skills.
  5. Poor social skills and affection.

It is not uncommon for individuals with ASD to comorbid with other disorders.Thus, individuals with ASD may present with other symptoms such as anxiety, hyperactivity, sleep disorders, and attention deficit. Due to the complexity of its presenting symptoms, a professional diagnosis for ASD requires in-depth analysis of an individual’s psychological functioning, speech and communication skills, socio-emotional development, motor behaviors and sensory modulation skills.

It should be noted that some symptoms such as social skills may not manifest until social demands exceed individual’s limited abilities. Parents should take notice if children are not developing according to their milestone. Prognosis for individuals with ASD is often more positive when early and aggressive intervention is given.

Contributor:

Ms. Jolene Lip

Neurotherapist in Spectrum Of Life Integrative Wellness Centre

 

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