Since starting my career as a Speech-Language Pathologist, one of my favorite topics to learn about is autism. I’ve learned that it is not some scary disorder. People with autism are simply people. I may not have all of the answers about autism but I do hope to bring more awareness about what autism is and what it looks like in the real world.
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopment disorder characterized by deficits in social-communication and social interaction and the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviors. Common characteristics include:
- Social communication deficits present in various ways and can include impairments in joint attention and social reciprocity as well as challenges using verbal and nonverbal communication behaviors for social interaction.
- Restricted, repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities are manifested by stereotyped, repetitive speech, motor movement, or use of objects; inflexible adherence to routines; restricted interests; and hyper- and/or hypo-sensitivity to sensory input.
Each child diagnosed with autism won’t have all of these characteristics. I remember a professor in grad school telling us a quote by Dr. Stephen Shore who said, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” The more I work in this field the more I understand how true this really is. I have quite a few clients on my current caseload who have been diagnosed with autism and they all are very different kids.
If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.Dr. Stephen Shore
Learn the Signs of Autism
Here is a list of some of the more common signs of autism experienced at any age. For a more detailed list broken down by age, click here.
As an SLP, I’ve seen a lot of parents struggle with the idea of getting their child tested for autism. It can’t be an easy decision. But I have seen the positive effects on children whose parents decided to take that leap, even if it leads to a diagnosis. When you go through this process, it opens the doors to so many opportunities. There are so many therapists, like myself, that are here to help your child succeed in this world. Having a diagnosis helps me understand the why, but typically doesn’t change how I do therapy. That’s because my goal is to help your child communicate their wants and needs, no matter what diagnosis they may or may not have.
Screening for Autism
If you have concerns that your child might have Autism, try this free screening. The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised (M-CHAT-R) is a 20 question screener about your child’s behavior. Please note that completing this screener will only inform you if further evaluation is needed, it will not provide a diagnosis.
Stay tuned for my next post which will include common myths about Autism. Have questions or comments? Feel free to leave a comment below or send a message straight to my inbox!