What is Autism, important things to know

Eastside SpeechAutism

AUTISM: Understanding common characteristics | Eastside Speech Solutions

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurological disability affecting the way a person thinks, feels, and experiences their daily environment. It is typically characterised by differences in communication (verbal and non-verbal), social interaction, and behaviour.

Pediatricians provide the formal diagnosis of autism. Autism is often diagnosed when a child demonstrates difficulties in two main areas: social communication and/or interactions and repetitive patterns of behaviour. Although autism seems to be more prevalent than in previous generations, according to Dr. Shan Ong, a consultant developmental pediatrician, increased awareness and the broadening of the diagnostic criteria to encompass those with more subtle levels of difficulty, simply means that more people with ASD are being identified.

Common difficulties may be with:

  • Social Interaction and Communication
    • Lack of interest in developing relationships with others
    • Differences or lack of facial expressions and other non-verbal communication
    • Lack of eye contact
    • Not joining in on pretend play or sing-a-longs (e.g., pat-a-cake)
    • Would rather play alone
  • Repetitive Behaviors
    • Repetitive speech (echolalia)
      • Repeating what you say over, and over again.
      • Reciting large pieces of articles, T.V. shows, or books they read
    • Repetitive body movements
      • Hand flapping, rocking or toe walking
    • Repetitive and fixated on certain toys
      • Intensely watching their toys as they play with them (possibly watching the mechanics of the toy, such as the wheels rolling back and forth)
      • Not a big variety of toys they play with
    • Does not handle changes to their routines or transitions between activities

Other challenges are disturbances in sleep, diets, and mood (e.g. aggression). Individuals with ASD may also have sensory processing issues that may impact their reactions to sounds, texture, taste or other sensory inputs. This may also impact their ability to control their emotions, for example, sudden changes in mood.

What causes Autism?

The exact cause of ASD is unknown, however, it is thought to be associated with a significant genetic component (but not always). Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls (4:1). Some genetic disorders and mutations are strongly associated with ASD.

What help is available?

Speech pathologists are highly skilled in helping children and adults with ASD develop their communication and social skills. Children and adults with ASD also benefit from intervention from Occupation Therapists to address their sensory challenges. Psychologists are very skilled in helping address social, emotional, and behaviour challenges.

In Eastside Speech Solutions. we offer therapy for children with additional needs. If you are concerned about your child’s development or are an adult seeking assistance, please call us on 02 9398 3020.