WHAT IS AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by impairments in social communication, as well as restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests and activities. There are also often significant difficulties in the processing of sensory information. These complex and unique behaviours can vary in their manifestation but are representative of the particular diagnostic criteria.
ASD is a lifelong condition. The cause of ASD is currently not known but there is evidence to suggest that genetics play an important role in the cause of ASD. The behaviours and difficulties associated with ASD are evident very early in an individual’s development but the stage at which functional impairment becomes obvious can vary. No two individuals with ASD are alike. The behaviours associated with ASD can vary within individuals as they grow and develop and respond to various situations and environments in their daily lives.
DOES MY CHILD NEED AN ASSESSMENT?
The following signs could be indicators of ASD which may impact your child’s behaviour and development. No single indicator typically signals ASD, instead a child would present with a number of the following indicators.Communication:
- Lack of early gestures such as waving and pointing
- Lack of response to own name / selective hearing (e.g. responding to environmental sounds but often ignoring speech)
- Regression in speech and language (e.g. loss of previously used words)
- Speech absent at 18 months and no use of phrases by 24 months
- Unusual language patterns (e.g. repetitive speech or jargon)
- Lack of reciprocal communication
- Unusual patterns of behaviours (e.g. flapping hands, spinning, toe walking)
- Unusual interests
- Unexplained tantrums
- Significant difficulties coping with change
- Ritualised patterns of behaviour
- Decreased eye contact
- Lack of reciprocal smile
- Lack of interest in others / sharing interest with others
- Often seeming to be in their ‘own world’ or aloof
- Preference to playing alone / limited social play
- Unusual patterns of behaviour in play (e.g. lining objects, categorising)
- Play is limited to certain toys
- Lack of imaginary play
- Over or under reaction to sounds (e.g. afraid of everyday sounds / not responding to own name)
- Preoccupation with moving or spinning objects
- Aversion of certain textures or exploring environment through touch
- Over / under reaction to pain
- Use of peripheral vision to look at objects / observing or playing with toys on floor / table level
- Mouthing objects or clothing
WHAT IS AN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER ASSESSMENT?
In South Australia, a formal ASD diagnosis requires two accredited clinicians, which can be a psychologist, speech pathologist, psychiatrist or a paediatrician. Assessments can be conducted by a team of two clinicians in one setting or by two individual clinicians across different settings. Assessments involve interactions with and observations of the child, as well as gathering information from all relevant and available sources about the child’s strengths and difficulties in areas of social communication as well as any restricted and repetitive behaviours, interests or activities. The information is then carefully considered in light of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
A Team ASD assessment is booked over two sessions. The assessment session takes up to approximately 1.5 hours. During this session one of the clinicians performs the parent/care giver interview and the other observes the child during play. A feedback session is then scheduled with the parent/care giver, later in the day, and takes approximately 30 minutes. During this session parents/care givers will receive feedback from the assessment and discuss the results and recommendations. A full, comprehensive report is then completed and posted to the family.
A Single ASD assessment is booked over three sessions. The first assessment session takes up to one hour. During this session the clinician performs the parent/care giver interview and gathers background information. The second feedback session also takes up to one hour. During this session the clinician observes the child during play. A feedback session is then scheduled with the parent/care givers. During this session parents/care givers receive feedback from the assessment and discuss the results and recommendations. A full, comprehensive report is then completed and posted to the family.
WHY IS GETTING A DIAGNOSIS IMPORTANT?
Receiving a diagnosis of ASD provides a profile of an individual’s strengths and areas of development and helps individuals and their families understand why they may experience certain difficulties or behaviours. A diagnosis can also allow access to specific support and services.
LOCATIONS AND PRACTITIONERS