January 2022 - Hidden Talents ABA

Cutting Nails For An Autistic Child

If you’ve ever tried to help an autistic child groom their nails you probably already know that it can be challenging, for you and the child! Some of the ways autism presents can make cutting nails more difficult than for other children, which also means it’s more difficult for the person trying to help them.

Not understanding why autistic children struggle with having their nails cut only makes the problem worse.

So, we’re going to talk about why it’s hard for autistic children to have their nails cut, and offer some solutions and resources in Atlanta that might make it easier for you and the child.

Let’s get started.

Why Is Cutting An Autistic Child’s Nails So Difficult

It’s important to remember when you’re dealing with an autistic child, and that even most neuro-typical children don’t like having their nails trimmed. That’s important because it means that an autistic child’s discomfort isn’t that unusual, they just may have a more severe reaction to having their nails trimmed.

Autistic children are also likely to think that nail trimming is unnecessary, so they don’t understand why they need to go through a difficult and uncomfortable process. Sometimes you can explain why nail trimming matters, but autistic children might not care, and may not be able to listen at the moment.

Many autistic children also dislike being touched, especially for a prolonged period, due to sensory processing disorder. That means that holding their hand to cut their nails might be uncomfortable for an autistic child, and they might not want to let you hold their hand long enough to get the job done.

The last common reason autistic children don’t like having their nails trimmed is they don’t like the sound. Especially since the sound of nail trimming can be unpredictable, it may be overwhelming and uncomfortable for autistic children.

Those are only some of the most common reasons. Every child is different, so every autistic child is likely to have different reasons behind their behavior when their nails are trimmed.

Tips For Cutting Your Autistic Child’s Nails

Each of these tips can help make it easier to cut an autistic child’s nails, but it’s also important to combine different tips and to pay attention to how each child reacts. What works for one autistic child won’t necessarily work for another, and what worked once might not work a second time.

Always try to adjust your nail trimming process to meet the needs of the child, whatever those might be at the time.

First, Try Starting Slowly:

You might not trim every nail every time, but if you can trim even one or two you might be able to start building the child’s tolerance to having their nails trimmed.

Over time you’ll be able to increase how many nails you trim, or how closely you trim each nail. But, you may reach plateaus where there isn’t progress. Don’t let that discourage you.

Don’t Go Wild When They Do Cooperate With Nail Trimming:

Pushing too hard on a good day, especially if it’s uncomfortable or ultimately makes the autistic child unhappy, will likely make it harder the next time.

Make Sure You’re Both Comfortable:

You don’t have as much tolerance when you’re uncomfortable, and neither do autistic children. Making sure you’re both as comfortable as you can be will help make the process less stressful for you both.

Talk Them Through The Process:

Some autistic children benefit from being talked through what you’re doing as you’re doing it. Telling them you’re going to clip one nail, and before each clip, and then when you move on to the next finger will help them process what’s going on and stay calmer.

Explain Why This Needs To Be Done:

Autistic children usually don’t understand why their nails need to be trimmed, and it might take them longer to understand than other children. Explaining why you’re trimming their nails, with examples, each time will help them understand and stay calmer.

Explaining also sets the expectation that they get to know why something is happening and have some say in it.

Try A Hand Massage Before Nail Trimming:

Giving an autistic child a small hand massage before you get started can make the whole process a lot easier. That’s because it helps them associate their hand being held with a pleasant sensation, instead of just an uncomfortable one.

This can also be a good option to help after nail trimming, especially if the massage is comforting or feels good to the child.

However, a hand massage may not be useful for autistic children that are touch averse. If possible, you can always ask if they want a hand massage before you get started.

Try Using The Right Equipment:

Using a typical nail clipper might not be a good option for autistic children. They need to move too much, and it can be uncomfortable.

Switching to a 360-degree nail clipper is one option since the child can hold still while you adjust the clipper to the right angles.

If that doesn’t work, an electric trimmer might be a better option. It will feel and sound a little different, which might be more tolerable for some autistic children.

Try Filing First:

For some autistic children, filing, which is more consistent than clipping, might be a good starting place. You still need to start slow if you choose this option and work your way up to filing more than one nail, and then a whole hand.

But, once your child accepts filing you may be able to try nail clipping again, especially if you explain that it’s faster.

Consider Using Toys and Videos as Distractions:

In some cases, your best option might be helping your autistic child tolerate nail clipping by giving them something else to help them distract.

Stimming toys are a common option for this kind of distraction, but almost any toy or video your child finds engaging can work. You can even try playing their favorite song or letting them hug a favorite blanket.

Helping Your Atlanta Child Thrive with ABA Therapy

At Hidden Talents ABA, located right here in Atlanta, we understand the challenges faced by children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). One common challenge can be nail trimming, which can be overwhelming due to sensory sensitivities. However, ABA therapy can offer a powerful approach to improving your child’s tolerance for nail trimming and overall well-being.

Understanding SPD and Nail Trimming Challenges:

Children with SPD often experience the world differently. Nail trimming can be particularly difficult due to:

  • Touch Sensitivity: The sensation of being touched, especially for prolonged periods, can be uncomfortable.
  • Sound Aversion: The clippers’ sound can be startling or unpredictable.
  • Visual Sensitivities: Bright lights or close proximity to the clippers might be overwhelming.

How ABA Therapy Can Help:

ABA therapy focuses on positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors and reduce challenging ones. Here’s how it can help with nail trimming:

  • Desensitization: Through gradual exposure to nail trimming tools and sensations, your child can build tolerance.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Rewarding calm behavior during nail trimming creates positive associations with the process.
  • Communication Strategies: We can help develop communication methods to express discomfort or needs during trimming.
  • Sensory Integration Activities: Activities promoting proprioceptive input (deep pressure) can help regulate sensory responses.

Getting Started with Hidden Talents ABA:

At Hidden Talents ABA, we discuss your child’s specific needs and develop a personalized ABA therapy plan. We understand every child is unique, and our compassionate therapists will work collaboratively with you to achieve your child’s goals.

Imagine a future where nail trimming becomes a less stressful experience for your child. Contact Hidden Talents ABA today and let’s help your child reach their hidden talents!

Remember, the easier you can make nail trimming for your autistic child, the easier it will be for you, and the better they’re likely to behave. Fighting an autistic child to trim their nails is more likely to make it harder over time, especially if the child doesn’t understand what you’re doing or why.

Work with their autism, not against it, and you’ll have better results.

Daily Dose of Inspiration

Like branches on a tree, we may grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.

Image displaying inspiring quotes

Daily Dose of Inspiration

Like branches on a tree, we may grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.

Daily Dose of Inspiration

What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet
  ~ Anne Frank

Image featuring inspirational quotes

Thank you for the inspiration caregiverlist.com

Daily Dose of Inspiration

What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet
  ~ Anne Frank
Thank you for the inspiration caregiverlist.com

Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder

The research to better understand conditions like autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder (SPD), or sensory overload, is getting better by the day, but there’s still a lot to learn. For example, many people still aren’t aware of the correlation between these two conditions and what they entail. In this guide, we’ll cover all the basics so that you have a better understanding of these conditions and their therapeutic options.


What is Autism? 

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a development disorder that takes on several forms. It is what is known as a “spectrum” disorder because it can appear in different people with different symptoms, levels of severity, developmental concerns, and so forth. Autism can cause children to learn, react, and attend to details differently than children without this condition, or those who are neurotypical.

Autism causes a wide range of social and communication challenges for those afflicted. With proper interventions (and especially early intervention), such as ABA therapy,  a lot of the issues can be overcome or made less severe. There have been several methods and therapies studied for assisting those with this condition, and because there is still so much to learn, a lot of research is ongoing.

One thing we do know is that autism is typically linked to sensory processing disorder, which we’ll discuss next.


What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory processing refers to the way that a person’s brain perceives sensory input, as well as how the person responds to that information. Someone who struggles with sensory processing or who is diagnosed with SPD will typically have an impairment in the way that their brain processes these elements.

When the brain cannot properly process the senses and the world around it, regulating behavior and motor functions like coordination and balance can become difficult. There are several components of sensory processing, and even one of them being off can lead to a lot of developmental delays and the need for therapeutic intervention. There are eight total components of sensory processing to be aware of, as you’ll see in the list below.


8 Components of Sensory Processing


The components of sensory processing difficulties that you need to be aware of include:

  •         Taste
  •         Touch
  •         Smell
  •         Sight
  •         Sound
  •         Vestibular Function- how the inner ear and brain work to control balance, eye movement, and body awareness
  •         Proprioception- the sense of awareness of one’s body movements or positioning
  •         Enteroception- the awareness of what’s happening within one’s own body

Some of these come with a preoccupation or aversion to certain things (loud noises, certain tastes or textures, etc.) The way that the brain processes these things has somehow been interrupted, and it results in several different potential issues.

When it comes to the types of sensory issues that exist, two main conditions typically occur, both at either end of the extreme. Let’s look at those two sensory issues now.


Two Types of Sensory Issues

Although several different issues and challenges may present themselves with sensory processing disorder and autism, they can typically be divided into two main groups.


This refers to children who are easily stimulated by any sensory elements or sensory stimuli. These children may have a low tolerance for pain or the aforementioned loud noises. It could also include light sensitivity, coordination issues, and so forth. The hypersensitivity could impact appetite and ability to eat certain foods, so this could create a situation where you have a finicky eater on your hands, too. It’s not uncommon for there to be food issues with these two conditions, and again they all come in different shapes and sizes.



On the other end of things, and in a potentially more dangerous light, is hyposensitivity. This condition causes children not to have enough sensory stimulation. This could mean they have a higher pain tolerance, or they bump into objects and walls because it doesn’t occur to them not to. They may also have a need to be constantly touching or mouthing items, although it’s unsure exactly how that’s related to the lack of sensitivity.


Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder

More than 80% of all children with autism spectrum disorder also have sensory processing disorder. According to the DSM-5, SPD is a behavior specifically associated with ASD, but most of the children with SPD do not have autism. The other variable is that sensory processing disorder usually affects touch more than anything, while those who have autism will struggle more with sound processing.

It’s still being learned as to how these two are related specifically, but both conditions can cause children to learn and react to things differently, as well as to interact differently with the world around them. Depending on the type of sensitivity that they struggle with, it could compound with the addition of an ASD diagnosis, but the therapeutic approaches are typically similar in nature.

Common Sensory Sensitivities of Someone with SPD and Autism

People with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often experience a range of sensory sensitivities. These can vary greatly from one individual to another, but some common sensitivities include:

  1. Sensitivity to Touch: This could manifest as discomfort or distress when touched, or a dislike for certain textures in clothing, food, or objects.

  2. Sensitivity to Sound: Certain sounds may be overwhelming or distressing. This could include loud noises, such as sirens or fireworks, or even everyday sounds, like the humming of a refrigerator or the ticking of a clock.

  3. Sensitivity to Light: Bright lights or certain types of artificial light can be uncomfortable or even painful. Some individuals may also find flashing or flickering lights distressing.

  4. Sensitivity to Smell: Certain smells that most people find unremarkable or mildly annoying can be unbearable or nauseating to someone with SPD or ASD.

  5. Sensitivity to Taste or Textures of Food: Certain tastes or food textures may be rejected. This could lead to a very restricted diet, with only a few accepted foods.

  6. Sensitivity to Movement: This could include discomfort or disorientation during activities that involve movement, such as swinging, spinning, or being upside down. On the other hand, some individuals may seek out intense movement experiences.

  7. Sensitivity to Temperature: Individuals may be overly sensitive to minor changes in temperature, or find certain temperatures intolerable that others would find comfortable.

  8. Sensitivity to Visual Input: Certain visual stimuli, such as busy patterns or rapidly changing images, could be overwhelming or cause discomfort.

Remember, not every person with SPD or ASD will experience all these sensitivities, and the degree of sensitivity can vary widely from one individual to another. Understanding and respecting these sensitivities is an important step in supporting individuals with SPD and ASD.


Therapy for ASD and SPD

 ABA Therapy

As mentioned, there have been plenty of therapies and approaches that have been studied for autism and sensory processing disorder. Currently, ASD is best treated using ABA therapy, or Applied Behavioral Analysis. Essentially, it uses a style of programming to help kids learn by offering them a reward (often related to their stimming or sensory issues) in exchange for acquiring skills or learning various things.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is used for sensory processing disorders, including things like teaching children coordination and how to handle other sensitivity issues through exposure and practice over time. An occupational therapist will focus on the specific sensitivities that a child has and attempt to work on improving the challenges that they face. Sensory integration is proving quite effective as a solution, but since the debate on this disorder is still out, there is a lot left to learn. As of now, we at least know that occupational therapy is helping children with sensory issues, and in the future, that’s only likely to get better.

Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory Integration Therapy is a type of therapy that is often used to help individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and autism spectrum disorder. This therapeutic approach focuses on helping these individuals manage their sensory challenges and improve their ability to function in daily life. It involves specific sensory activities that are tailored to the individual’s needs, such as swinging, spinning, and deep pressure, which can help regulate their sensory system. The goal is to challenge the individual in a structured, rhythmic way to help their brain adapt and process sensory information more efficiently. Over time, Sensory Integration Therapy can lead to improved motor skills, enhanced learning abilities, better behavior, and greater participation in daily activities. It’s important to note that this therapy should be administered by a trained occupational therapist or other healthcare professional who understands the unique sensory needs of individuals with SPD and autism.

To learn more about how these issues can be resolved with ABA and occupational therapy, as well as what the future holds and how you can help your child thrive, visit us at https://hiddentalentsaba.com/.

Asperger’s vs. Autism: Understanding the Spectrum

Up until 2013, Asperger’s syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were considered different conditions. For years, these conditions were diagnosed separately, but they now fall under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder.

Both conditions have relatively similar symptoms. People suffering from either of the two exhibit similar communication and behavioral patterns, which makes the distinction between the two diagnoses fuzzy. The American Psychiatric Association therefore has since made a change to the manual practitioners use to diagnose mental health conditions. In the new edition, Asperger’s syndrome is incorporated into the diagnosis of ASD.

This article explores the differences between the two conditions. We’ll also look at the criteria used for each diagnosis. But before we get to that, let’s check out each condition separately.

Autism Disorder

Autism disorder is a complex, lifelong developmental condition. It impacts how you perceive and socialize with others. This leads to social interaction, communication, self-regulation, and relationship problems.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what autism is, let’s have a look at Asperger’s.

Asperger’s Syndrome

When Asperger’s syndrome was added to the DSM-4, it was described as having the same characteristics of autism, but with one key exception: People diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome didn’t have delays in language and communication, as was seen with autistic patients.

As such, many medical professionals believed that Asperger’s was a form of “high-functioning” autism. Typically, this meant that a person’s development and language skills were considered “normal” according to neurotypical standards.

But as mentioned, the publication of DSM-5 in 2013 saw Asperger’s syndrome folded into Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

So, what’s the difference between the two?

The Differences Between Autism and Asperger’s

Both conditions are now listed under the umbrella of ASD. However, Asperger’s has milder symptoms. Let’s see how they compare.

Speech and Language

The major difference between autism spectrum disorder and Asperger’s is that the latter has milder symptoms and a general absence of language delays. In most cases, children that were diagnosed with Asperger’s have good language skills. However, they may find it challenging to fit in with their peers.

On the other hand, children with autism typically exhibit difficulty in speech and communication. In most cases, they have difficulty understanding what someone is saying to them. And in some cases, they might also have trouble picking up non-verbal cues like facial expressions and hand gestures.

Autistic children also frequently exhibit repetitive language. They might also have narrow topics of interest. For example, they may only be interested in cars and thus, only talk about cars.

Cognitive Functioning

Unlike in autism, children diagnosed with Asperger’s cannot have a clinically significant cognitive delay. They generally have average or above-average intelligence. Autistic children, on the other hand, may have significant cognitive delays.

Age of Onset

On average, autistic children are diagnosed at four. However, individuals classified under Asperger’s may not show any symptoms until they reach teenage or adulthood.

This is mainly because children with Asperger’s don’t have lower IQs. They also don’t exhibit any language delays. As such, you may not realize that your child has a developmental delay until they start engaging in more social interactions.

And how are these two conditions diagnosed? Read on to find out.

Similarities between Autism and Asperger’s

While there are some differences between autism and Asperger’s syndrome, they also share several similarities. Here are some commonalities between the two:

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Both autism and Asperger’s syndrome fall under the umbrella term of ASD. This means that they share core features related to social communication and interaction as well as restricted and repetitive behaviors.
  2. Sensory Sensitivities: Individuals with both autism and Asperger’s syndrome often experience sensory sensitivities. This can include hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to certain stimuli such as lights, sounds, textures, tastes, or smells.
  3. Social Challenges: Both autism and Asperger’s involve difficulties with social interactions. Individuals with both conditions may struggle with understanding social cues, making eye contact, interpreting expressions, and engaging in reciprocal conversations.
  4. Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors: Both autism and Asperger’s are characterized by repetitive and restricted behaviors and interests. These can manifest as repetitive body movements (such as hand flapping or rocking), adherence to rigid routines, intense focus on specific topics or objects, and resistance to change.
  5. Communication Differences: While the severity may vary, individuals with both autism and Asperger’s can have challenges with verbal and nonverbal communication. This can include difficulties with speech development, pragmatic language (using language appropriately in social contexts), understanding sarcasm or figurative language, and maintaining back-and-forth conversations.
  6. Diagnosis Process: In terms of diagnostic criteria, both autism and Asperger’s are assessed using similar evaluation tools and assessments. Professionals use standardized measures to assess an individual’s social communication skills, behavior patterns, and developmental history to determine if they meet the criteria for ASD.

It is important to remember that every individual with autism or Asperger’s is unique, and their experiences may differ. While these similarities exist, it’s crucial to approach each person with an individualized understanding and support them based on their specific needs.

Criteria for Each Diagnosis

Asperger’s Syndrome

There are currently no specific tests that can diagnose Asperger’s. However, Asperger’s was commonly diagnosed in childhood. This is because the possibility of an individual fully reaching adulthood without an Asperger’s diagnosis was somewhat limited but not impossible.

Here is a summary of the diagnosis criteria for Asperger’s in children from the previous version of DSM.

  •         Severe impairment in social interactions and communication skills
  •         Repetitive behaviors or movements
  •         Difficulty with verbal or nonverbal communication
  •         Lack of interest with others or taking part in activities
  •         Few to no long-term relationships with peers
  •         Immense interest in specific aspects of objects
  •         Strict adherence to ritual behaviors or routine
  •         Difficulty in maintaining jobs, relationships, or other aspects of daily life
  •         Showing little to no response to emotional or social experiences


Like with Asperger’s, there are currently no standard diagnostic criteria for an autism diagnosis in adults. But those are in development. In the meantime, medical professionals diagnose adults with autism through a series of in-person interactions and observations. They also consider any other symptoms that the individual is experiencing.

If you think you have ASD, you should consult your family doctor. They will perform an evaluation to ensure there isn’t any underlying medical condition affecting your behavior. They might then refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist for a more in-depth assessment.

The medical professional may want to talk to you about any issues you have regarding emotions, communication, range of interests, behavioral patterns, and more. You’ll also have to answer questions about your childhood. And in some cases, they might ask to speak to your parents or any other older family member to get a perspective about your lifelong behavior changes.

Your doctor might determine that you didn’t display symptoms of autism as a child but instead began experiencing them as a teen or adult. In this case, they might evaluate you for other possible effective or mental health disorders.

Here is a summary of the diagnosis criteria for autism.

  •         Difficulty with everyday conversations
  •         Having difficulty understanding or responding to social cues
  •         Sharing interests and emotions less often than peers
  •         Having delayed language or speech skills
  •         Speaking in atypical ways, for example, in a singsong voice
  •         Having difficulty understanding other people’s emotions or facial expressions
  •         Doing repetitive actions such as rocking and flapping
  •         Experiencing intellectual delays
  •         Becoming angry or overwhelmed with new situations
  •         Having trouble understanding or developing relationships
  •         Sensitivity to certain stimulants like bright lights or loud noises
  •         Becoming intensely interested in certain topics
  •         Having a significant need for a predictable order and structure

Treatment for Asperger’s and Autism

Treatment for Asperger’s syndrome and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) typically involves a combination of therapies and interventions aimed at improving communication skills, social interaction, and reducing repetitive behaviors. One commonly used approach is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which focuses on teaching individuals new skills and reducing unwanted behaviors through positive reinforcement. Speech and language therapy can help improve communication abilities, while occupational therapy can address sensory sensitivities and motor skills. Additionally, social skills training and social stories can help individuals with ASD navigate social situations more effectively. It’s important to note that treatment plans are individualized and may vary depending on the specific needs and challenges of each person with Asperger’s or autism. Consulting with healthcare professionals and specialists in the field is crucial in developing an effective and personalized treatment plan.

The Bottom Line

Since 2013, medical professionals have considered Asperger’s as part of a broader classification of ASD. That being said, a person with an Asperger’s diagnosis might not necessarily identify as having autism spectrum disorder.

Learning the difference between the two is helpful. But taking action is even more important. If you or your child is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should seek guidance as early as possible. Early intervention, such as ABA therapy, can provide valuable opportunities to learn practical independent life skills.

If you are ready to work with the best Applied Behavior Analysis therapy provider in Texas or Georgia, give us a call at (404) 487-6005. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

Autism Acceptance Month

This article is about Autism Acceptance Month and all that you need to know about it. More specifically, we will go over a brief history of the event, how you can participate in it, and what its organizers are trying to achieve.

When you’re done reading this article, you will become more aware of what autism is and learn about how you can educate others about this condition.

The History Behind Autism Acceptance Month

The story of Autism Acceptance Month goes back to the 1970s. Firstly, in 1970, the Autism Society initiated its campaign to promote autism awareness across the United States. Their goal was to ensure that autistic people can obtain the best quality of life that’s possible.

Secondly, in 1972, the Autism Society went on to inaugurate the National Autistic Children’s Week. They started to host this event every year, up until it turned into Autism Awareness Month.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is that ‘Autism Awareness Month’ was renamed to ‘Autism Acceptance Month’ in March 2021, right before the annual occasion took place.

When is Autism Acceptance Month?

April is Autism Acceptance Month. The 2nd day of April is Autism Awareness Day. Yet, the entire month is dedicated to promoting acceptance of autism spectrum disorder.

How can I participate in Autism Acceptance Month?

By engaging in the following acts of kindness, you can partake in Autism Acceptance Month and help raise awareness about the challenges that autistic people face:

  • Advocate for policies and laws that have a positive impact on the autism community.
  • Dedicate yourself to taking action that makes the world a kinder place.
  • Donate to autism charities, buy merchandise from them, and engage in other acts of giving.
  • Educate yourself in classrooms and/or at fundraising events.
  • Share resources (such as the real-time support, guidance, and information that the Autism Response Team provides) and potentially-influential stories on social media.
  • Start an autism kindness campaign at your workplace or school.

When you participate in and support Autism Acceptance Month, you will be helping the event’s organizers reach their objectives.

The Goals of Autism Acceptance Month

Here are the main purposes of having an awareness and acceptance month for autism:

  • Advocating for the inclusion of autistic people in schools, workplaces, and society in general.
  • Assisting others learn more about what autism is and what the condition entails.
  • Raising money and funds for autism charities and nonprofits.
  • Increasing people’s understanding and acceptance of autism.

These goals have been consistent since 1972, when the effort was first launched. The expansion from having a week dedicated to autism to a month-long event enabled charities to further advance these objectives.

Autism Acceptance Colors

The color of autism acceptance is typically represented by a combination of different colors that celebrate neurodiversity. The most commonly recognized colors include:

  1. Red: Symbolizing love and support for individuals with autism.
  2. Gold: Signifying the value and preciousness of people with autism.
  3. Rainbow or Multi-Color: Representing the diversity of the autism spectrum and the unique qualities of each individual.
  4. Light Blue: Often used in conjunction with blue, light blue represents hope for a better future for individuals with autism.

These colors are often used in various awareness campaigns, events, and materials to promote understanding and acceptance of autism.

By dedicating yourself to kindness, donating funds, sharing resources, and hosting events, you can effectively participate in Autism Acceptance Month and help those in the autism community attain the quality of life that they desire.

Diagnosing Autism: The Process

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, (ASD) is a neuro-divergent, categorized group of developmental disabilities that can affect a range of skills and child developmental processes. Autism is not contagious, nor is the direct cause of autism known.


Being autistic can impact a person’s life in several areas, including communication, social skills, social development, and behaviors. However, not every case of autism looks or presents itself the same, and people are often diagnosed on a spectrum.


Read on to understand more about what autism is, when symptoms begin to show, and what the process of diagnosing a person with autism may look like.


How Young Can Autism Spectrum Disorder be Detected?

Autism shows itself in child development, meaning that as a person develops and ages, certain neuro-divergences, and behavioral presentations begin to show. Autism can sometimes be detected in babies 18 months or younger, but that is frequently not the case.


Typically, an autistic person will have a diagnosis of autism by 2 years old. This is because as the child grows and develops, it is easier to see certain milestones they are surpassing or missing in comparison with their age group.


However, some people do not get diagnosed with autism until they are in their teens or even adulthood.


Having an early diagnosis of autism is very important so that the person can begin treatments that might be able to help them, such as speech therapy, educational therapy, applied behavioral therapy, or tactile occupational therapy.


What Are Some Early Signs of Autism?

There are many early signs of autism, but as stated before, each case of autism looks different and it can be hard to differentiate when a child is autistic or if they are struggling with certain behaviors or actions for other reasons. 


That said, some of the most common early signs of autism are as follows:


  •     Avoiding Eye Contact: Often, a child with autism will avoid looking at others directly in their eyes. They may tilt their heads away or shift their eyes away from the faces of others. This is a sign of a behavioral and communicative symptom.


  •     Low Socialization: Children are often incredibly social creatures, who enjoy and find interest in others as they explore the world. If a child is showing little to no interest in other children or caretakers, they might be displaying a social symptom of autism.


  •     Limited Use of Language: Communication is a huge part of autism. Many people with autism show signs of struggling to communicate or have a hard time mastering language skills. They may miss milestones that their peers easily reach or may use alternative methods of communication, rather than spoken language. Sign language is a common alternative for non-verbal people with autism.


  •     Reliance on Routine: Getting upset by minor changes in the day-to-day routines of life is another sign of autism. Folks with autism rely on routines to feel safe and so that they know what is coming and can prepare themselves for it. So if your child always takes a bath at night and one day they need to bathe in the morning, this could cause them to get upset.


Process of Diagnosing Autism

The process of diagnosing autism spectrum disorder is broken down into two main parts that are both very important. They are as follow:



The first part is a screening where health care professionals look for a variety of communication, behavioral, and social developmental differences that line up with the diagnosis requirements of autism. Health care professionals will administer tests to make sure they can rule out any other developmental differences, like ADHD.


They will use several different types of assessing and testing so that they can definitively diagnose the person with autism as well as figure out the severity of the diagnosis so they can recommend treatments or therapies that may help the person to live an easier life.


Some of the tools that might be used in the screening process are :


  •     Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised with Follow-Up (M-CHAT-R/F): This is a brief checklist of yes and no items for early autism detection for children 16 months to 30 months of age


  •     Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R): a semi-structured interview where parents and specialists work together to make a diagnosis of ASD.


  •     Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic (ADOS-G): An interview with activities conducted by a trained specialist to make a concrete diagnosis.


  •     Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS): An observation of a child’s behavior and actions which is rated on a 15 point scale to see where the child’s relationships with people, body behaviors, adaptation to changes, listening skills, and communication skills are developmentally.


  •     ThinkAspergers: a screening tool in a mobile phone app that helps the informal detection of autism that can be used by teachers, parents, and medical professionals.


The Diagnosis

During the diagnosis meeting, you will hear from the medical professional whether your child has autism or not. During this meeting, the medical professional may refer you to some therapists who might be able to help you and your child create a better and easier life for your child.


They will also explain what they were looking at and why they came to the conclusion your child has autism.


What May a Doctor Look at During the Screening?

The following list is some of the things your doctor or health care professional may be looking for during the screenings and autism diagnosis process:

 Child’s developmental history:

  •     Did your baby begin smiling around 6 months?
  •     Did your baby mimic sounds and make facial expressions by 9 months?
  •     Was your baby cooing, babbling, and making noise by 12 months?


They may also ask about other behaviors, such as:

  •     Does your child exhibit repetitive or unusual behaviors?
  •     Does your child have trouble making direct eye contact?
  •     Is your child interacting with other people and sharing their experiences?
  •     Does your child respond to attempts to get their attention?
  •     Does your child have a vocal tone that could be described as “flat”?
  •     Does your child understand other people’s actions and behaviors?
  •     Is your child sensitive to inputs like noise, temperature, light, or textures?
  •     Does your child have sleep or digestive issues?
  •     Is your child likely to get irritable or annoyed quickly?

After the diagnosis

After an autism diagnosis, there are several steps that can be taken to ensure the individual receives the best possible support and care. The journey following an autism diagnosis may seem daunting, but there are numerous resources and treatment options available that can help.

One of the first steps after an autism diagnosis is to inform relevant parties such as the child’s school. This allows the school to provide necessary accommodations and services like occupational therapy, speech therapy, and Applied Behavioral Therapy, which can significantly aid the child’s development and learning.

It’s also crucial to remember that it’s okay to take some time to process the diagnosis. The initial period after receiving an autism diagnosis can be challenging, but support is readily available.

Various therapeutic interventions can help individuals with autism enhance their abilities and overcome challenges. Speech and Language Therapy is one of the most common developmental therapies for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It aids in improving communication skills, which are often a challenge for individuals with ASD.

Physical therapy can also be beneficial, especially for children facing movement issues. An occupational therapist can assist with sensory and motor skills. High-functioning individuals with autism can also benefit from specialized therapies tailored to their unique needs.

Post-diagnosis, it’s essential not to let the diagnosis cause self-pity. Instead, count your blessings and focus on the positive aspects. While an autism diagnosis can initially seem overwhelming, there are many resources and treatments available that can help improve quality of life.

Moreover, research indicates that an early ASD diagnosis can lead to increases in intervention, which can bring about significant changes in parent-child interaction.

Finally, certain medications can be used as first-line treatment post-diagnosis, like methylphenidate or other stimulant medications. These can be particularly helpful in managing symptoms such as hyperactivity or impulsivity.


Remember that autism is common and your child can and will live a full and vibrant life, regardless of their diagnosis status. It is important to give them the best possible chance to succeed in their lives by putting them in the proper therapies that can help them learn to live with autism and overcome the limitations autism may impose on them.

Patience, understanding, and education will be your best tools as you begin to navigate this new aspect of your child’s life as well as your own.