What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterised by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, a restricted repertoire of activities and interests, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviour. Some people may also be over- or under-sensitive to sensory stimuli (sound, touch, taste, smell and visual).
People with ASD are individuals with their own array of challenges, strengths, preferences, interests, likes and dislikes and like all of us have the potential to make their own unique contributions to those around them.
Currently 0.5% of the population present with an ASD diagnosis (about 115000 Australians). (ABS 2012).
How is ASD diagnosed?
There is no simple medical test (such as a bloodtest) that can tell us if a child has an ASD.
ASDs are currently diagnosed according to behaviours detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5). Diagnosis involves a comprehensive assessment of a child in a range of settings. Information is gathered about the child’s strengths, as well as their difficulties. Formal assessments and interviews, as well as observations are used. Autism is usually diagnosed in early childhood, but assessments can be undertaken at any age from as young as 12 months.
What are the early signs of an ASD?
Some of the following may be early indicators of autism:
Children may explore objects in unusual ways such as mouthing (beyond where it would be considered developmentally appropriate), or peering at objects from unusual angles. They may avoid (or seek out) loud noises or experiences relating to all of their senses.
Children may demonstrate unusual interests that prevent learning in other areas. They may have difficulty coping with change. Sometimes children will present with motor mannerisms such as flapping/spinning.
Children may not respond to their name, or point. Some children may “lose” skills relating to words or communication. Children may develop unusual ways of learning language, such as repeating what you say, or lines from their favourite TV show.
Children may not be interested in you or other children, and avoid eye contact. They may not share their interests, preferring to play alone.
Children may play with toys in unusual ways, such as spinning or lining toys up. They may display delays in their play, for example just play with cause and effect toys, or alternatively prefer one type of toy, excluding all others.
How can Novita help?
Early intervention has been proven to be effective in supporting children and families with ASD. Novita therapists can support you and your child to learn skills to help your child to participate and reach their full potential. If you would like information or free advice, speak to someone in our friendly team on 1300 NOVITA (1300 668 482) or visit our Contact Us page for more ways to get in touch.