Autism is a developmental disability that causes problems with social skills and communication. There are various ranges of Autism–whereas one child can be diagnosed with mild form, another child might have a more significant form. The diagnosis is different for every person. Autism is more prevalent in boys than girls and although statistics are always changing, it is being diagnosed in about 1 out of every 80 boys. While there is no cure, there is an effective, research-based therapeutic intervention known as Applied Behavior Analysis.
Children with autism may have problems with communication, social skills, and reacting to the world around them. Not all behaviors, communication deficits and lack of social skills will exist in every child. A diagnosis is usually made by the child’s doctor or developmental pediatrician. Possible signs and symptoms include lack of communication or communication deficits, such as not speaking or limited speech, difficulty expressing basic wants and needs, problems answering questions, repeating what it said (known as echolalia) or speech that sounds different.
Lack of social skills might include poor eye contact, poor play skills, difficulties making friends or crying or laughing to no reason or at inappropriate times. Lastly, children with Autism have difficulties reacting to the world around them. For example, they might rock or hand flap which is known as a self-stimulating behavior, problems dealing with changes in routine, disliking loud sounds (sensory integration disorder) and feeding or sleeping difficulties. Not every child with Autism possesses all of these symptoms. Whereas one child might exhibit one, another might exhibit a great deal of symptoms.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for Autism. Over the last decade, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help persons with Autism live happy and productive lives. ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective. These are skills that come natural to a typically developing child but need to be taught to a child with Autism.
By Rachel Hirshan, Learning Specialist