Once trust is established and communication can be tapped, a world of wonderful can be found within for those patient enough on the outside to stay long enough to understand the true mind that is Autism.
Our minds are made of incredible neurological circuitry and when this is not integrated and organised in an efficient manner it can feel like the chaos of a shaken snow globe as some individuals try to make sense of the world outside of them from within. Children’s minds can struggle to interpret the auditory, visual, tactile and kinaesthetic experiences that are given resulting in a jumble of information that can be very different from what typical minds experience. The snow globe experience could be a simplistic metaphor for what the inside world feels like for a person living with Autism.
Listening, speech, language and learning all rely on information to be received and stored in an accurate and ordered manner for children to have a capability to emerge forward with their communication and academic skills. The earliest identification of challenges and specific intervention for children diagnosed to be Autistic can change their lives. Speech pathology support enables the child’s mind to be shaped and supported over these early critical years when foundations are being hard wired in the mind. The first 7 years of a child’s life are so important based on the rapid maturation of brain structures that enable a child to communicate and learn effectively. Over this period a child is developing neurological communication programs in their mind for the following functions.
Depending on how these communication functions are developed will determine what level a child’s auditory processing, speech, language and pragmatic skills will function at. Autism is a cluster of clinically recognised behaviours that are understood to be on a SPECTRUM. This is based on how these skills or deficits in function are having an impact on aspects of the individuals and others life.
Not all people on the spectrum are having challenges in their life. Many adults can live very satisfying and successful lives. This can be achieved when they position and align their role, relationships and occupation with their needs and the style of living they identify with in the world.
However, some individuals do demonstrate impairments and dysfunction that needs support and intervention. The needs can extend from minimal to extensive so the intervention program needs to be specifically prescribed based on the individuals profile.
The intervention program will adapt to cater for the Autistic individuals needs. Each person will have a different prognosis based on tehir profile, so professional advice is of use to predict what supports will be required long term.
An individual does not grow out of Autism, as it is understood back in the DSM-IV days as a pervasive developmental disorder, however they learn to develop skills, understand and adapt to function at an optimal level for their ability. One of the reasons that the term Pervasive developmental disorder was dismantled in the DSM-5 diagnostic manual is because children were observed to be making significant improvements when specialised treatment became available since the advent of the Helping Children with Autism Package became available to support families with the expense of Speech pathology for communication and school readiness.
The most effective treatment is a whole family -community engagement support model which includes the following.
How can we support an Autistic individual?
Intervention and continuous support over the Autistic individual’s life span assists these children and adult to gain their full potential and to communicate to us about their inner experiences living inside their snow globe and how they interpret the world we share. We can also understand their true untapped function as they watch us and their worlds unfold on the outside from their inner perspective with their unique perceptual interpretation. Support is best achieved in children’s early years with direct intervention from the Medical Team, Allied Health and Educations Teams working in conjunction with the child and their family. These consist of but are not limited to:
- Medical Team- General Practitioners, Paediatricians and Psychiatrists
- Allied Health Team- Speech Pathologists, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and sometimes Physiotherapists.
- Educational Team can be at kindergarten and schools that involve specific support from their class teachers, learning support teachers and teacher aids.
It is understood that early intervention is recommended for 20 hours a week to enable effective support for children with Autistic needs. Therapists support Education Teams and later employment personnel when children become adults, by providing specialised support by giving information, advocating for environmental adaptation, implementing modifications for their learning needs and maximising inclusion based on the individuals profile and capability.
Autism is more than challenges with the ability to communicate. It should be understood in a greater picture as a person’s way of thinking and how they process their world. The way an individuals on the autistic spectrum manages the sensory information in their world greatly influences their experiences, their reactions to these experiences and then how they behave. Their emotional expression is a bi-product of what they are thinking or what have experienced so should be always considered before engaging any action to resolve this. It is always very valuable to take the time to find out what this is, because it can change and be specific to what is happening at the time.
Whilst all individuals have variations based on their personality, family influences, personal and academic experiences, autistic individuals do share specific behaviours that suggest they meet criterion to be diagnosed as Autistic. There is still conjecture over the best methods and testing that enable accurate interpretation of this given that currently it is based on behavioural assessments from professionals who may have differing opinions of what is classed as the “cut-off point” for what is deemed autistic and what is deemed …”having autistic traits”.
Families need significant support to understand and learn how to manage some of these communication and behaviour challenges when they arise.
To learn more about Autism – select a topic
- Is AUTISM curable?
- How do I know if my child is accurately diagnosed with AUTISM?
- If my child is diagnosed with Autism, what funding support is available to assist their development?
- When is the best time to be diagnosed with AUTISM?
- Who are involved in supporting AUTISTIC people?
- Why do the support people who support AUTISM need to be so specialised?
- How do we find the funding to support achieving this specialized support?
- Why are AUTISTIC people so different but they are all diagnosed with the same condition?
- What would be the specific behaviours, symptoms and features that could be early detectors to influence a diagnosis for Autism for a Speech Pathologist?
- What can be done to help my AUTISTIC child learn to speak?
- Why does my AUTISTIC child repeat what I say over and over and enjoy acting out lines on the TV or a movie?
- How is it that my AUTISTIC child can say the alphabet sequence, count in numbers but can’t read?
- How is it that my AUTISTIC child can read aloud by isn’t able to understand what he reads?
- Why does it appear that my AUTISTIC child can sometimes understand what I say and other times s/he doesn’t appear to listen to me?
- Why does my AUTISTIC child not sit in a chair and learn?
- Why does my AUTISTIC child notice tiny insignificant items and ignore more obvious items in a room?
- Should I use an iPAD with my AUTISTIC child?
- Why does my AUTISTIC child just not speak or is mute and then out of the blue starts speaking in full sentences?
- Why does my AUTISTIC child ignore us in the room?
- Why does my AUTISTIC child badger me for attention?