Autism Spectrum Neurological Disorders
Are you suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder?
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Overview: Autism Spectrum Disorder
Symptoms of ASD
The symptoms may be more notable in different settings. In fact, to make the diagnosis, symptoms must be present in multiple settings. In this way, it is helpful to have information and feedback from parents, teachers, healthcare providers, and others.
What causes ASD?
How is ASD diagnosed?
He or she will also screen for other commonly associated conditions including seizure disorders, depression, anxiety, learning disorders, or attention disorders. ASD can have a genetic component and run in families, so the specialist will evaluate for any family history of ASD, intellectual difficulties, language disorders, ADHD, seizures, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or mood disorders. The specialist should rule out other syndromes which can cause ASD-like symptoms, including fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, Angelman syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex, Prader-Willi syndrome, or Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome. This involves a physical exam and possible other testing. There are multiple specially developed diagnostic tools for ASD. The specialist should have undergone extensive testing with the chosen diagnostic tool. Common options include the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2nd edition (ADOS-2), Childhood Autism Rating Scale 2nd edition (CARS-2), or Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARDS). Additional supplemental testing may be pursued by a speech language pathologist and/or an occupational therapist. Vision and hearing testing should be pursued. Lead poisoning should be ruled out. If ASD is diagnosed, the next step is to assess severity. Using scales such as the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale or the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System, the provider can assess the severity of difficulties with social communication or repetitive/restricted behavior and make recommendations for how much support is needed.
What is Asperger syndrome?
What causes ASD?
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Treatments for ASD
ASD is treated with a multidisciplinary team that focuses on empowering a person to address weaknesses and maximize daily function and quality of life. As a child grows, this involves achieving independence. Areas that are focused on include social/play functioning, communication skills (verbal and non-verbal), developing adaptive skills to overcome weaknesses, decrease negative behaviors, and optimize academic and cognitive performance.
It is important that early intensive treatment be instituted as soon as ASD is suspected, as this is thought to influence outcome with communication and functional skills. This can occur in a specialized early intervention program, a school-based program, or by individual practitioners.
The multidisciplinary team may involve a child neurologist, a child psychiatrist, a psychologist or neuropsychologist, a speech language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and/or a social worker. This approach is customized for the individual and should be continuously readdressed.
Behavioral and educational interventions
No single therapy has been proven to have the highest efficacy, and they are often layered together.
Individualizing educational programming with a high staff-to-student ratio
Utilize teachers with special training and expertise in ASD
Ongoing reassessment and adjustment of programming
Curriculum that focuses on non-verbal communication, imitation, attention, social interaction, play, regulation of behavior and emotions, and self-advocacy
Interventional models that have been specially developed for ASD, such as Discrete trial training (DTT), Pivotal response training (PRT), Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI), or Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Ensuring that there is consistent structure with predictability
Family involvement in management
Planning for transitions, such as between school grades, entering the workplace, etc.
Intensive volume of programming, often involving at least 25 hours