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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Updated: July 23, 2022

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that occurs due to differences in the brain, otherwise known as neurodiversity.  Neurodivergent people who are ‘on the spectrum’ will often experience problems with social communication and interaction.  Neurotypical people (that is, those who do not have an ASD) may find it difficult to understand the behaviours of those affected by autism.

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What Is ASD?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a wide array (i.e., a spectrum) of conditions that individuals are born with.  Asperger’s Syndrome is one example of an ASD, and they are normally detected at a young age.

 

Autism is not a disease or illness with a cure, rather it is a difference in the brain and how it works.  If you are on the spectrum, you will be for life, you can however gain support if it is required.  ASDs are characterised by difficulties with things most people take for granted.

 

Like the ability to understand how others may think or feel, difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication, and social skills.  Those on the spectrum may hold rigid interests, repeat tasks, feel sensitive to light or sound, struggle with unfamiliar situations or social events, and need more time to understand things.

 

Indeed, because autism relates to a difference in the brain, naturally those who are neurodiverse have different needs when it comes to moving, learning, or paying attention.  According to Autism.org.uk, autism affects 1 in 100 people in the United Kingdom today, with an estimated 700, 000 autistic children and adults in the UK.

What Are The Symptoms?

Common Symptoms In Adults:

  • Difficulty understanding what others are thinking or feeling and in expressing feelings
  • Getting very upset if routine is changed, due to preferring a strict routine
  • Struggling with phrases because things are taken literally
  • Experiencing anxiety in social settings
  • Or preferring one’s own company and finding it difficult to make friends.

Less Common Symptoms In Adults:

  • Appearing rude, uninterested, or blunt without intending to
  • Not grasping social etiquette (for example, interrupting people)
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Getting too physically close to others
  • Taking it badly if others get too close or make physical contact
  • Noticing patterns, small details, smells, or sounds others don’t
  • Being very interested in certain activities and subjects
  • Planning things very carefully before doing them.

Symptoms In Females & Males

Autism is often undiagnosed in girls and women because it can present differently in females and males.  Females generally appear to cope better in social situations, but this is because girls are usually quieter, and often hide their feelings because this is considered ‘normal’.

Symptoms In Older Children

  • Older children may appear to struggle to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • Find it difficult to express how they feel
  • Get very upset if their routine is changed as they like a strict routine
  • Show a lot of interest in certain activities and subjects
  • Struggle with phrases because they take things literally
  • Become upset when asked to do something
  • Or prefer their own company, and find it difficult to make friends

Symptoms In Young Children

  • Children with autism may avoid eye contact
  • Not smile back when you smile at them
  • Not respond when you call their name
  • Repeat the same phrases or movements (for example, rocking, or finger flicking)
  • React to sounds, smells, or tastes that they do not like in a very upset way
  • Or talk less than other children.

What Causes Autism?

The research suggests that there is no one cause for autism, rather, its development is influenced by the interplay between genes and environment because of how this impacts early brain development.

Genetics: Autism runs in families.  A parent does not have to be impacted by autism themselves, however if they carry one or more genes that increase the risk, it is more likely that their child will develop autism.

Environment: may reduce or increase the risk of developing autism for those who are genetically predisposed to autism in a small way.  Increased risk may occur if either parent is of advanced age; Due to pregnancy or birth complications (e.g., extreme prematurity, low birth weight, multiple pregnancies (twin, triplet, etc), or pregnancies spaced less than a year apart).  Prenatal vitamins which contain folic acid, taken before, at conception, and throughout pregnancy can decrease risk.

How Phinity Therapy Can Help

At Phinity we understand that there is no cure for autism and no one treatment.  Depending on where you are on the spectrum, and in life stage, we will work with you to support your needs and goals.

 

For example, for some children, therapy might focus on supporting learning and development, improve communication, social, and behavioural skills, for symptom reduction and improved functioning.

It can be overwhelming for parents when you review the myriad of home and school based interventions and treatments, especially as your child’s needs can change over time.  We will recommend options and attempt to provide these to you where possible.

We will work with you to understand the needs of your child which will inform the treatment strategy.  This could include behaviour and communication, education, family, or other therapies as appropriate.

Treatment for adults is different, and could involve cognitive, verbal, and applied behavioural therapy.  This again will depend on your specific needs, for example, it may relate to anxiety, relationship problems, social isolation, or work difficulties.  A thorough initial assessment will help guide treatment goals and approach.

We work together to support you toward an improved quality of life and outlook.  There are various therapeutic approaches for adults, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), physical therapy, or occupational therapy.

What Causes Autism?How Phinity Therapy Can Help

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