Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
What is it?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can result in significant social, communication, and behavioural challenges including unusual patterns of behaviours and interests. These difficulties occur in most aspects of the person’s life and are typically present from a young age. Some people with ASD may communicate, think and learn in different ways to those without ASD. People with ASD often need a degree of help in their daily lives.
The diagnosis of ASD includes individuals who previously would have been diagnosed with autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. People with ASD may also refer to themselves a being neurodiverse.
What are the typical characteristics?
Difficulties with social communication and social interactions
- Trouble initiating conversation or activities with others.
- Difficulty responding appropriately in social situations (i.e., laughing when something said is not funny).
- Have trouble understanding and purposefully using body language (i.e., eye contact, facial expression, and gestures).
- Trouble maintaining and or establishing friendships with same aged peers.
- Struggle to identify and communicate their emotions and or understand the emotions of others.
Unusual patterns of behaviour and interests (restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities)
- Doing the same physical movement over and over again (e.g., rocking or hand flapping)
- Repeat the same set of behaviours at certain times
- Have trouble coping with change
- Be very concrete in their thinking
- Struggle to behave outside a set of rigid rules
- Speak in a manner that seems odd or scripted. They may even use the same phrases over and over not adapting it to the situation.
- Have trouble processing sensory information (i.e., hyper or hypo sensitivity to sight, sound, touch, and taste).
- Hold very intense interests in a certain topic (e.g., dinosaurs or animals) and or for an object (e.g., locks or fans).
Someone must demonstrate difficulties with social communication and social interactions as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities to meet a diagnosis of ASD.
How can an assessment help?
As is indicated in the name, everyone with a diagnosis of ASD falls somewhere along a “spectrum”. This means there can be HUGE variability between individuals both in the types of symptoms they may have and their severity. Furthermore, ASD often occurs alongside other neurodevelopmental, psychological, and neurological conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, depression and learning disorders. People with ASD may also experience difficulties in other aspects of their development (e.g., language skills). This is why it is important to understand each person’s unique set of cognitive strengths and struggles and how these interact with the person’s behaviour and impact their daily life.
How does Invictus Health do things differently?
Our assessments are able to help you and those around you understand if you or your child’s history and presentation are consistent with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We are also able to provide additional information about you or your child’s thinking skills, academic skills, social, emotional, and behavioural functioning. Because we consider the full picture we can also comment on additional conditions or factors that may be contributing to you or your child’s difficulties that may require management.
Our comprehensive and detailed assessment enables us to provide individualised strategies and recommendations to improve an individual’s quality of life. Such information can also assist with guiding treatment, schooling transitions and disability supports.
It should be noted that assessment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is usually a multidisciplinary process. We recommend that those seeking a formal diagnosis of ASD consult with a Paediatrician (or Child Psychiatrist) where necessary, Psychiatrist and or Clinical Psychologist (in addition to a Neuropsychologist) who specialises in ASD assessment and diagnosis.
For more information on Neuropsychology Services – Click here
By: Invictus Health