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All you need to know about Autism and Aspergers

01 Jul 2016

Autism or more commonly known as Autism Spectrum Disorder is a cluster of developmental concerns reflected in restricted functioning in a wide array of skills. Few of them may be social skills, motor movement, expression, speech, limited interest, poor eye contact, etc. These symptoms vary in their severity. Few may be mildly impacted which does not affect the day to day functioning of an individual and he/ she may be able to carry out majority of the tasks with ease and with little help from others. On the other end, is profound level. In this, the problems are so severe that it hampers the individual’s ability to perform tasks related to even personal hygiene without external aid. According to a survey by ‘Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’ approximately 1 in 68 children have some or the other from of ASD.

 

 

Asperger’s Syndrome has now been classified as ‘high functioning’ type of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which has already been discussed above. This is because the symptoms are similar to ASD only less severe in nature. Hence, the child will be as ‘smart’ as all the other children but may have obsessive tendencies surfacing with respect to repetitive movement/ behaviour/ topic of conversation. The child will also show poor social skills and hampered interpersonal skills. Because Asperger’s has been found to impact different aspects of an individual’s capabilities, no two children diagnosed with Asperger’s will be alike.

SYMPTOMS:

 

AREA OF FUNCTIONING

 

AUTISM

 

ASPERGERS

 

 

SOCIAL SKILLS

 

Poor eye contact, fail to respond to their names, difficulty in having a conversation

 

Cannot pick up on social skills, lacks inborn skills, inability to have a conversation with others

 

 

REGULATING EMOTIONS

 

Easily upset with change in environment, inappropriate responses (anger, distress, affection), restricted facial expressions

 

 

Dislikes changes in routine, heightened sensitivity, over stimulated by loud noises, lights, textures, etc, lack empathy

 

 

 

MOTOR SKILLS

 

Poor motor skills, repetitive behaviour (rocking, staring, moving), echolalia (repeating words or phrases that they hear)

 

Delayed motor development, late in learning to hold a spoon, awkward walk, poor handwriting, appears to be clumsy, often bumps into furniture, etc

 

 

 

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

 

Using words that seem odd, out of place, or have a special meaning known only to those familiar with that person’s way of communicating, have unusual tone, cannot predict another person’s action, difficulty understanding others view points

 

 

Unable to understand sarcasm, usually have one sided conversations, cannot recognize difference in speech tone, pitch or accent, child’s own speech may be flat/ robotic

 

 

INTERAPERSONAL SKILLS/ INTERESTS

 

Rarely shares things of interest, talks at length about favourite subject without giving others a chance to respond,

 

Preoccupied with 1-2 interests, show unusual interests in topics like snakes, intricate designing, astronomy, will have in depth knowledge about topic of interest

 

Though, we cannot negate the fact that children identified with ASD have certain strengths and abilities too.

·         They are strong visual and auditory learners

·         Par excellence in Math, Science, Music and Art

·         Have above average intelligence

·         Ability to learn things in detail

·         Remember information for  long periods of time

 

TREATMENT:

After a full fledged and proper diagnosis of the individual using various psychological assessment tools, interviews with caretakers and in depth information about birth history and developmental milestones treatment can be started.

The wide range of concerns and problems faced by those “on the spectrum” indicates and reflects that there is no single best treatment for ASD. Working closely with a mental health care professional is of utmost importance and even necessary to formulate and establish a right treatment program for the individual on the basis of his needs and requirements. There are innumerable treatment options ranging from social services, programs, NGO’s, medication, psychologist, vocational skills training, occupational training, speech therapy, social skills training, Executive skills training, etc. Few of the treatment techniques that can be adopted are:

·         SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING: In either small focus groups or in one-on-one sessions, therapists focus on interpersonal skills i.e. building healthy communication patterns, being able to express oneself in more appropriate ways, being able to maintain eye contact, etc. This often uses modelling, imitation and other behavioural contingencies.

 

·         SPEECH-LANGUAGE THERAPY: This mainly focuses on developing coherence in the speech. The flat and robotic style of talking will be worked up on, helpinh them develop a sense of pitch and tone will be the main areas of focus. Being able to maintain a two-way conversation and understand social cues.

 

·         COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT): This will help in bringing about a positive shift in the child’s way of thinking. Focal point of this will be to help him manage his emotions and control repetitive behaviors. The child will become self reliant handling sudden outbursts, unforeseen meltdowns and strange obsessions.

 

·         PARENT EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Working on developing such skills requires team work and support from parents and primary caretakers. Therapist and the child alone won’t be able to achieve as much as they will be able to accomplish with supportive, aware and well trained parents. Hence, parents will be guided and educated about different strategies which they can adopt at home and in the absence of the therapist to ensure speedy and steady development.

 

·         BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS. This will majorly work up on positive social skills and communication skills together. Techniques like positive reinforcement, token economy, aversion, etc will be used in order to increase the chances of occurrence of an expected and desired behaviour and reduce the occurrence of undesired actions.

 

·         MEDICINE: Since, it is a wide range of concerns and issues that the child is facing, they MAY BE some medications. It will completely depend on the need of the child and as per the discretion of the therapist. Medications are used and resorted to only at the 11th hour and when there a need to diminish a particular symptom immediately. It will be used for a very brief period of time until therapies alone can be used to curb the symptoms.

 

These are few of the many strategies that can be adopted to help children facing Aspergers and ASD. There are many more recreational methods. These strategies will adopt a lot of play, energizers, use of sand boxes, water, paints, clay, dance and music therapy and a varied combination of colourful method to ensure maximum improvement in the least amount of time.

 

 

How will this be beneficial?

Well, all this will not only create awareness among all but also empower parents, educators, families and children to fight and overcome the heartbreaking situation that kids face on a daily basis. This will help individuals cope with the daily stressors and will be able to achieve success and accomplish things to the fullest. Every child is unique and is born with certain innate talents, qualities and abilities which get overshadowed by the symptoms and signs of ASD and Asperger’s. This will help the child and the families work on the potential of the child and work on ‘what the child can do’, ‘what his hidden strenths are’ instead of what he cannot do and what he is lacking.

At ePsyClinic.com you can get  help for your child completely online. 

Just click the pink chat button on left and Type "Autism Help" to connect instantly with a psychologist and know more about the process


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