WHAT IS AUTISM?

Frequently Asked Questions

Most frequent questions and answers

wHAT IS aUTISM?

Autism is a complex, lifelong, developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood.

Autism is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the Autism Spectrum Disorders. -Shine Ireland

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What is the prevalence of Autism?

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 59 – twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125. The spotlight shining on autism, as a result, has opened opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve people on the autism spectrum and their families.  – Autism Society of America

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 59 – twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125. The spotlight shining on autism, as a result, has opened opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve people on the autism spectrum and their families.  – Autism Society of America

 

What are the characteristics of autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorders are characterised in varying degrees, by difficulties in –

  • Navigating and understanding social interaction
  • Attaining and understanding verbal & non-verbal communication
  • Abstaining from repetitive, or extremely limited behaviours and interests
  • Sensory Regulation

What are the common autism traits?

Common Traits

Here you will find a list of common traits many (but not all) autistic individuals display to varying degrees. Autism is a spectrum disorder meaning no two people will display identical trait commonalities.

Difficulty in navigating and understanding social interactions

  • Eye contact – may have difficulty maintaining eye contact with peers
  • Social interactions- may have little to no interest in peers or what they are doing
  • No response to their name being called.
  • Little to no response to verbal requests.
  • Emotional responses to situations may be unusual or may appear to not react at all
  • Reading of social cues and emotions in others may find difficult to understand
  • May prefer to be alone in own company
  • Conversational etiquette may be a challenge- understanding how to initiate, maintain or conclude
  • Social cues may be difficult to understand -turn taking, interrupting, not answers questions, may only speak about issues that interest them
  • Indifferent to the pain and suffering of others at times
  • Need for rigid consistency – rules of games/ unexpected events can be very unsettling for them / need for sameness in order to feel in control

Difficulty in understanding verbal & non-Verbal communication.

  • May be non-verbal, limited verbal or highly verbal
  • Poor understanding of language meaning/order and use of vocabulary
  • Literal interpretation of phrases/idioms ex-it’s raining cats and dogs
  • Monotone voice/ Unusual accents/Intonation may be unusual
  • “Blank” facial expression at times. Looking “vacant” at times
  • Find it difficult to understand humour due to literal interpretations of language and/ poor understanding of language
  • Difficulty in expressing upset and frustrations
  • Hand leading to communicate in place of verbal communication
  • Echolalia in place of regular verbal communication
prevalence-autism

Behaviours?

  1. Self-stimulation, spinning, rocking, hand flapping, etc
  2. Inappropriate laughter or tantrums for no apparent reason
  3. Inappropriate attachment to objects
  4. Obsessive compulsive behaviours i.e. lining up objects
  5. Repetitive odd play for extended periods of time. Example: stacking blocks for a half hour at a time
  6. Insistence on routine and sameness
  7. Difficulty dealing with interruption of routine schedule and change
  8. Possible self-injurious behaviour or aggressive behaviour toward others

Source: Shine Ireland

Sensory Regulation?

 

  1. Hyper (over) or Hypo (under) sensitivity of the five senses
  2. Abnormal responses to the senses
  3. A lack of response to pain or an overreaction to something seemingly minor such as a door closing

How is autism diagnosed?

“Autism varies widely in its severity and symptoms, and may go unrecognised, especially in mildly affected children and can sometimes be masked by more debilitating handicaps. Doctors rely on a core group of behaviours to alert them to the possibility of a diagnosis of autism.
These Symptoms & Behaviours may be:

• Impaired ability to make friends with peers
• impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
• Absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
• Stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
• Restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
• Preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
• Inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

Diagnostic teams will often use a questionnaire or other screening instrument to gather information about a child’s development and behaviour. Some screening instruments rely solely on parent observations; others rely on a combination of parent and the diagnostic teams observations. If screening instruments indicate the possibility of autism, a more comprehensive evaluation will be necessary. (DSM 4 or DSM 5)
Autism is a complex disorder. A comprehensive evaluation requires a multidisciplinary team and may include a psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist and other professionals who diagnose children with autism. The team members will conduct a thorough neurological assessment and in-depth cognitive and language testing. As hearing difficulties can cause behaviours that could be mistaken for autism, children with delayed speech development should also have their hearing tested.

After a thorough evaluation, the team usually meets with parents to explain the results of the evaluation and present the diagnosis. Children with autistic behaviours but well-developed language skills are often diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, although this is due to be phased out, due to the umbrella term of Autistic Spectrum Disorder coming into use as set out in the DSM 5. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the standard classification of psychological disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States and worldwide, and contains a listing of diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the U.S. healthcare system)

It is important to note that the HSE will only accept multi disciplinary diagnosis, but the Department of Education will accept single Psychologist assessments to access supports within the school system, as long as the psychologist is registered with NEPS (National Educational Psychological Service)” – source Shine Ireland

 

For the most up to date information and supports on Autism, please go to AsIAm.ie

 

autism-consultancy

Amanda Mc Guinness, BA (Hons), LLB (Hons) is the Autism Ambassador for County Mayo. 

She is a Law Graduate and Autism Educator with  a decade of experience, consulting, educating and training professionals and families of children on the Autism Spectrum. 

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