What is Autism

Supporting children with autism

What is Autism?

Autism, or more formally known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism affects 1 in 68 children in Canada yearly. It is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3 (24-36 months).

What is the Spectrum?

The term “spectrum” refers to a scale of severity or developmental impairment. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four individual diagnoses into one umbrella diagnoses, known as Autism:

  • Autism / Classic Autism / High Functioning Autism
  • Disintegrative Childhood Disorder
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Children and adults with ASD usually have some characteristics in common, but the condition covers a wide spectrum, with individual differences in:

  • Number and particular kinds of symptoms
  • Severity: mild to severe
  • Age of onset
  • Levels of functioning
  • Challenges with social interaction

There is no “one” treatment. Because every person is different, treatment is specific per individual. Individuals with autism vary in their skills, needs and abilities. The treatment is often decided based on these factors.

Understanding the Early Signs of Autism

Early Signs of Autism (12 to 24 Months):

  • Often begins to develop speaking ability then loses it, or there is no language development
  • May appear deaf, respond unevenly or not at all to sounds
  • Difficulty consoling during bouts of crying & hysterics
  • Difficulty sleeping / wakes at night
  • Does not “point and look”
  • Failure to bond to parents, siblings and/or others
  • Self-restricted diet (“picky eaters”)
  • Limited to no imaginative play
  • Not interested in playing with other children
  • Chronic gastrointestinal problems

Please note that a child may demonstrate only a few of these symptoms, or possibly none at all until 24+ months.

If your child has ‘normal’ development but then regresses, speak to your pediatrician or family physician immediately:

Possible signs at any age are as follows:

  • Struggles with understanding other people’s feelings
  • Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
  • Remains nonverbal or has delayed language development
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over
  • Gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings
  • Has highly restricted interests
  • Performs repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning
  • Has unusual and intense reactions to some or all sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colours

Please see this checklist of developmental milestones based on child’s age.

Treatment Options*

  • Play Therapy
    • Floor-time
    • Integrated Play Groups
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Applied Behaviour Analysis

*This is not a comprehensive list, treatment options vary for each individual.

Services for You and Your Child

At Freiheit Care, we are honoured that we are able to offer services to the younger population. Our respite care services are designed for family caregivers when they need to tend to their own personal lives or take a well earned break. We have trained staff to provide care for your child, so you don’t have to worry when you are not around!

Call us TODAY at (613) 518-8258 for your FREE phone consultation and learn about how Freiheit Care Inc. can give your child the freedom to a childhood!

Additional Resources:
https://autismcanada.org
https://www.autismspeaks.ca
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/checklists/all_checklists.pdf
http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/specialneeds/autism/ontario-autism-program.aspx#families

 

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