Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are the result of neurological differences that create difficulties with social reasoning, communication, and processing sensory information. ASD can vary greatly from person to person, both in terms of that person’s strengths and weaknesses and the severity of symptoms. The wide variation in ASD has led to it being called a ‘spectrum’ disorder. One person with ASD may be severely impaired, while another may need only periodic support. Furthermore, there are a variety of symptoms a child with ASD may display; thus, every child with ASD presents differently. Research has shown that children benefit from early interventions, and that waiting until a child is older may make it harder to help him ‘catch up’.
Recognizing the Symptoms and ‘Red Flags’
Symptoms of ASDs are often first recognized when a child begins daycare or preschool.
- The child is withdrawn from others, and makes limited or inconsistent eye contact
- Their use of gestures is more limited (e.g., not pointing to what they want, not shaking their head for “yes” and “no,” placing someone’s hand on an object to indicate they need help)
- The child may have trouble figuring out what to say, their speech may be repetitive or they may say unexpected things and repeat what they hear (e.g., phrases from YouTube or songs, words others say but use them inappropriate to the situation
- Child with ASD may have less range of facial expressions (e.g., appearing flat) or their facial expressions may appear exaggerated or rehearsed. In some cases, the child’s facial expression may not match the situation (e.g., laughing for no discernable reason, smiling when others get hurt, crying or appearing sad while playing with a toy)
- The child is having trouble transitioning from one activity to the next.
- Children with ASD may have ‘meltdowns’ when things surprise them or if they feel over-stimulated (sometimes by touch, loud noises, or people around them)
- They may seek out sensory input, such as watching wheels spin on a toy car, repeatedly pressing a button on a toy to hear the same sound repeated, or rubbing an object on the side of their face to see how it feels
- Children with ASD may play repetitively, with little imagination or creativity
- The child’s attempts to make friends are awkward or unsuccessful
- They misread others or miss sarcasm
- The child may have unusual or intense interests, and may be more engaged with objects than other people
- Unexpected motor behaviors: flapping, spinning, pacing, shaking, or delayed fine and gross motor skills
Support Services: What do I do?
If you suspect your child has an ASD, early intervention is essential. Diagnosis through assessment by a licensed psychologist provides the foundation for your intervention plan.
MindWell is proud to offer the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2) in conjunction with other measures. The ADOS-2 is considered the “Gold Standard” in assessing for spectrum disorder. The ADOS-2 is a semi-structured, standardized assessment of communication, social interaction, play, and restricted and repetitive behaviors. It presents various activities that elicit behaviors directly related to a diagnosis of ASD. By observing and coding these behaviors, our clinicians can obtain information that informs diagnosis, treatment planning, and educational placement.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more about our assessments.