Autism is a spectrum. Meaning autistic children are all very different. Each autistic child has unique abilities, symptoms, and challenges. Learning more about the autism spectrum will help you better understand your child, and it will also make communication with doctors, teachers and therapists easier.
Understanding the Autism Spectrum
The autism spectrum includes several closely related diagnoses. Every child on the autism spectrum has some degree of difficulty with social skills, empathy, communication and flexibility in behavior. But the degree of disability and the combination of symptoms can vary widely – even among children with the same diagnosis, by the way. Parents of autistic children often hear various terms such as "high-functioning autism," "atypical autism," "autism spectrum disorder" or "Asperger's syndrome". These terms can be confusing because there are so many, and because doctors, therapists, and other parents use them differently.
Most often, "autism" means the autism spectrum
When people use the term autism, they can mean two things: Some mean "classic" early childhood autism (as opposed to Asperger's syndrome), others mean the entire autism spectrum. If someone talks about your child having autism, don't ame they mean early childhood autism, but ask when in doubt. Here at Autism Culture, when we use the term autism, we always mean the entire autism spectrum. Here you can learn more about the forms of autism. Today, the diagnosis of "autism spectrum disorder" is also given, because the subtypes say only a limited amount about the actual abilities and problems of the children. But however doctors, teachers, and other people label the autism diagnosis, what really matters are your child's needs – and they are always unique. No diagnosis can tell you what unique challenges your child will face. It is more important to find support that meets the child's needs than to find the correct name for the diagnosis. And it is possible to get help and support for autistic children even without a precise diagnosis.
Characteristics of Autism in Children
Children, as well as adults, with autism have difficulty with social interaction, communication, and language; they often have specific and intense areas of interest and aberrant perceptual processing. We've compiled a list of autism symptoms in children – but please keep in mind as you read that a child is not immediately autistic if he or she exhibits some of the characteristics.
We offer several online autism tests for children:
However, the tests do not make a diagnosis, they can only tell you if a diagnosis is likely to be made. They are filled in by their parents. All our tests are anonymous and free of charge, the results are displayed immediately. The road to diagnosis can be long. Be nerve-wracking. In fact, it often takes two to three years after the first signs of autism are noticed before an official diagnosis is made – in part because of concerns about misdiagnosing the child. Because young children are so developmentally diverse, a definitive autism diagnosis is difficult to make. However, it also happens that an autism diagnosis is delayed because the doctor does not take the parents' concerns seriously or does not refer the family to a specialist. If parents already suspect autism, it may make sense to go directly to a doctor who knows about autism. For most parents a firm diagnosis is important. But it is more important that the child gets support with his difficulties. This can also be done without a diagnosis or. with preliminary diagnoses such as "developmental delay" or "delay in language development" or similar happen. However, it is then even more important to work with a competent professional who can recognize and address the causes and reasons for the difficulties. More on the diagnosis
Help and support for children with autism
There are many approaches to supporting and nurturing autistic children. A basic thing that is often overlooked or ignored is to understand and take into account the peculiarities in perception processing. A very good approach to promoting social interaction among children on the autism spectrum is shown by Prof. Morton Ann Gernsbacher in her article "Reciprocal Behavior" – a long but very readable article.
Not everything always revolves around the typical "autism symptoms". Some problems, z.B. Sleep disorders are more common in children on the autism spectrum than in non-autistic ones. In everyday family life, such problems can be very stressful for both parents and child. Children and young people on the autism spectrum are entitled to certain services, z.B. on integration help. More about help& Promotion
Unfortunately, schools are not equipped for autistic students, which often causes problems.
And how are the parents?
For parents, an autism diagnosis is usually a shock. We have compiled some articles that may help to overcome this shock:
We also highly recommend reading some good books on the subject. Particularly worth reading for parents is the book by the mother of an autistic boy who describes her experiences on the journey to autism land: "Do You Hear Me? Living with an Autistic Child" by Valerie Paradiz For parents of children with Asperger's syndrome or high-functioning autism, the books by Tony Attwood are also indispensable. And last but not least you should read some autobiographies of autistic people. Every autistic person is unique, but in this way you get inside views through which you can understand autism better than through specialized literature. The best thing parents of autistic children can do is to inform themselves thoroughly about autism, think critically about every statement, and thus understand step by step what their child really needs – and what is just snake oil.
Autism Culture brings together current research findings and autistic experiences and translates them into understandable practical guides: solutions, tips and practical knowledge for a happy life on the autism spectrum. " more
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