This month is officially the National Autism Awareness month in Australia and to contribute to Autism acceptance and awareness, I will be writing about this serious disorder and take one moment to focus on all the Australian families who have children on the Autism Spectrum.
So first of all, what is Autism exactly? There are a large number of misconceptions when it comes to Autism, to illustrate, some people think that Autism is caused by bad parenting others think that Autism is caused by vaccination, both these statements are myths. Autism is complex and seems to be caused by many different combinations of genes and environmental factors and is often described as a brain disorder.
If we have a look in the DSM-V, the Autism Spectrum Disorder is described as ‘a developmental disorder with persistent impairments in social communication, social interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. These symptoms must be present in the early developmental period and cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning.’
Interestingly to note that the DSM-IV diagnosis of Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) are now given the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Research shows that 1 in 100 children in Australia have been diagnosed with Autism, which reflects how many people and families are dealing with this lifelong developmental disability. With the NDIS scheme starting in July things are about to change for families who can’t afford the necessary extra care for their children. This extra care is needed as children with Autism can progress and improve with the right tools and support, to reach a better quality of life for themselves as well as for their families who love them.
The effects of Autism can often be reduced by early diagnosis and with the right interventions.
So ….what to do? Well, the good news is that there are effective interventions that can help create the best opportunities for children with ASD.
- Parent education and training
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, this is a very effective evidence-based therapy that improves very specific behaviours and challenges in children and young adults. It is used to help regulate emotions and develop impulse control and improve their behaviours as a result.
- Behavioural interventions such as the applied behavioural analysis (ABA), is an effective evidence-based method that targets the learning of skills and the reduction of challenging
- Therapy based interventions such as Speech Therapy to develop a child’s communication and Social Skills, and Occupational Therapy to develop a child’s motor skills and stabilize their senses.
The interventions mentioned above are just a range of available treatment options, which can significantly improve the quality of life for children with Autism and their families.
So, behaviour can be changed and improvements can be achieved by taking small steps!
If you would like to receive more information about Autism in respect of diagnosis and treatment please come and visit a psychologist at Drop of Life Psychology Clinic!