In April, we celebrated Autism Awareness month, and while we are a little late getting this post up, we felt it was important to highlight. Autism is affecting families now more than ever before so we felt it was better to be a little late than not address it at all. So with that being said, let’s check out this thing called autism.
What is autism?
“Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences. The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.” (source) In other words, autism can greatly affect how children communicate, interact, and build relationships with others. Some children with autism are very high functioning and with treatment and therapy are able to lead very normal lives. While others have more severe types that make interacting with others in daily life almost impossible. One very important concept to remember is that autism is not something that is easily diagnosed or treated. It may take several observations by teachers and a licensed psychologist to determine a diagnosis and a course of treatment that works for the child, family, and school. Regardless of the severity of this disorder, autism does not define who a child is. Rather, it simply means that he or she has to work a little harder to interact and communicate with others. There are no “autistic children” in the world. There are, though, children who have autism and in society it is very important that we notice the difference and avoid our knee jerk reaction to quickly label children by their disorder.
How do I know if my child is on the spectrum?
While some children might display some characteristic signs of being on the autism spectrum, it’s important to remember that autism can only be diagnosed by a licensed doctor or psychologist. With that said, there are some tell tale signs that you can identify that might make you consider having your child evaluated by a professional.
- Unusual play with toys. Does your child pay great attention to detail and get upset when its time to clean up or take his or her creation apart?
- Difficulty Interacting. Does your child struggle to interact appropriately with his or her peers or other adults?
- Sound Sensitivity. Does your child shutter when he or she hears a loud sound or cover his or her ears?
- Difficulty with routine change. Does your child demonstrate difficult behaviors when there is a change to his or her routine?
- Language Development. Did your child begin talking at an age appropriate time?
- Energy level. Is your child extremely active or very low energy?
- Attachment to items. Does your child fixate on specific toys, clothes, or other objects?
- Safety. Does your child have little regard for safety measures?
- Peculiar emotions. Does your child laugh at inappropriate times or cry over “spilled milk”?
- Interactive play. Does your child like to play alone?
If you answer yes to some of these questions, you may want to consider having your child evaluated by a licensed professional. The earlier autism is detected, the sooner treatment and support can begin, which allows for larger chance for success as the child ages. Remember that autism is not a terminal diagnosis and with the right treatment, children who are on the spectrum can live a very normal life.
What supports and resources are available for my child with autism?
In Texas, there is a wide range of supports and resources available for children with autism and their families. Autism Speaks has a great resource guide that is specific to each state and the resources listed there are for young children the whole way through adulthood.
What activities are out there for my child with autism?
An autism diagnosis doesn’t mean that your child can’t enjoy the same activities as other children. At Kwaddle, we have several partners that offer camps and other activities that include children with special needs. Whether it’s an overnight camp, day camp, a sport, or art, there are many options that allow children with autism to shine. Be sure to check out our complete listing of opportunities to find out what is available for your child. We are always looking to expand the number of businesses and programs on our site, so let us know if there are great organizations that focus on helping children with autism.
Written By: Kwaddle Staff, Gabby F.