Child Autism: Hidden Talents ABA

What to Do If You Think Your Child Has Autism

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January 31, 2024 What to Do If You Think Your Child Has Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. It's generally detected in early childhood, and parents are often the first to notice signs of autism in their child.

Two children with autism learning with letter blocks.

Signs of autism in children

Here are some common signs of autism in children:

  1. Difficulty with social interaction: This can include a lack of eye contact, difficulty understanding other people's feelings or talking about their own, and a lack of interest in other people or sharing enjoyment with them.
  2. Problems with communication: This could be delayed speech development, issues with starting or maintaining a conversation, use of repetitive language, or difficulty understanding simple instructions.
  3. Repetitive behaviors: These might include hand-flapping, rocking, jumping, or twirling, arranging and rearranging objects, or obsessive behaviors.
  4. Sensitivity to sensory input: This might show as overreacting or underreacting to certain sounds, lights, textures, or tastes.
  5. Resistance to minor changes: Children with ASD often prefer consistency and routine, and might get upset over minor changes to their environment or routine.

If you suspect your child may have autism, it's important to take immediate action. Here's what you can do:

1. Observe and Document Your Child’s Behavior

The first step is to keep an eye on your child's behavior. Note any unusual patterns or behaviors that seem different from those of other children of the same age. This could include anything from not responding to their name, having difficulty with eye contact, engaging in repetitive behaviors, or struggling with social interactions. Make sure to document these observations as they can be useful when speaking with professionals.

2. Seek Professional Help

If you're concerned about your child's development, the next step is to consult with a healthcare professional. This doctor may be your child's pediatrician or a child psychologist. They can guide you through the process of diagnosing ASD, which may include behavioral evaluations and medical tests.

Image of a professional ABA therapist.

3. Get a Diagnosis

Diagnosing autism involves various autism assessments to evaluate a child's behavior, speech, language, and developmental level. This process usually involves an evaluation by a team of specialists, including a psychologist, a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a speech therapist, and others. The autism diagnosis will help determine the best course of treatment for your child.

4. Start Early Intervention Services

Research shows that early intervention services can greatly improve a child's development[^1^]. These services might include speech and occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, and social skills training. The sooner these services start, the better the outcome for the child.

Key Benefits of Early Intervention Therapies:

  1. Improvement in Communication Skills: Early intervention can significantly help children become verbal, enabling them to communicate their needs, desires, and feelings more effectively. This improvement in communication is vital for their overall development and independence (Behavioral Innovations).
  2. Social Skills Development: Interventions often focus on teaching children how to interact with others, make friends, and understand social cues. This helps in reducing the isolation many children with autism may experience and supports them in building meaningful relationships (Maxim Healthcare).
  3. Enhanced Independence and Self-care: By breaking down tasks into small, manageable steps, children learn essential life skills such as dressing, eating, and personal hygiene. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is particularly noted for its effectiveness in teaching these skills (Maxim Healthcare).
  4. Reduction in Repetitive Behaviors: Studies have shown that early intervention can lead to a decrease in repetitive behaviors common among children with autism. The impact is notably more significant in younger children, emphasizing the importance of timely intervention (NCBI).
  5. Academic Achievement: With personalized teaching strategies and support, children with autism can make substantial progress in academic settings. Early intervention helps in addressing learning challenges early on, paving the way for better educational outcomes (Brain and Life).
  6. Monitoring and Adjusting Developmental Goals: Continuous assessment of a child's progress is a core component of early intervention. This allows therapists and educators to adjust strategies and goals to meet the evolving needs of the child, ensuring that they receive the most beneficial support at every stage of their development (TPATHWAYS).
  7. Long-term Impact: Research indicates that the benefits of early intervention extend into later childhood and even adulthood, with individuals showing improved life skills, reduced dependency, and a better overall quality of life (Autism Speaks).

5. Join a Support Group

Caring for a child with autism can be challenging, and sometimes it helps to connect with others who are going through the same experience. Joining a support group, either locally or online, can provide emotional assistance and practical advice.

Developing a Behavior Support Plan can also offer structured strategies to manage challenging behaviors effectively, providing further support for both the child and their caregivers.

Image of two people holding a heart-shaped paper.

6. Stay Informed and Advocacy

Educate yourself about autism and stay updated on the latest research, therapies and treatments. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions about your child's care. Additionally, advocating for your child in social, educational, and medical settings is crucial to ensure they receive the necessary support and resources.

7. Take Care of Yourself

Lastly parent, remember to take care of your own health. Caring for a child with autism can be physically and emotionally demanding. Make sure to take time for self-care and seek help when needed.

While discovering that your child may have autism can feel overwhelming, remember that you're not alone. There's a wealth of resources and support available to help both you and your child navigate this journey. With early intervention and continued family support, children with autism can lead fulfilling lives.

How ABA Therapy Can Help Children with Autism

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy is a widely recognized treatment for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ABA therapy applies our understanding of how behavior works in real situations, with the goal of increasing behaviors that are helpful and decreasing behaviors that are harmful or affect learning. Your child will have and individualized therapy program after an autism assessment.

ABA therapy can help children with autism in several ways:

  1. Improving social interactions: ABA therapy can teach children the necessary social skills to interact with others, including understanding and using body language, making friends, and having conversations.
  2. Enhancing communication: ABA therapy can help children with autism improve their verbal skills, understand nonverbal cues, and use an augmentative communication system if needed.
  3. Reducing problematic behaviors: By understanding the factors that trigger certain behaviors, ABA can help to modify these behaviors. This could be reducing self-harming behaviors or tantrums, and increasing positive behaviors.
  4. Teaching self-care skills: ABA therapy can help children with autism learn essential self-care tasks, like brushing teeth, getting dressed, or using the bathroom independently.
  5. Promoting independence: Overall, ABA therapy aims to increase a child's independence by teaching them necessary life skills.

ABA therapy is typically conducted by a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) and involves regular one-on-one therapy sessions. The effectiveness of ABA therapy varies from child to child, but research has shown it to be beneficial in many cases.

For families and individuals in Macon and Savannah seeking comprehensive support, exploring available Autism Resources in the areas is crucial. These may include therapy centers, support groups, educational programs, and community organizations tailored to each community's specific needs, offering invaluable assistance in navigating the autism journey.

[^1^]: Early Intervention for Toddlers With Autism Highly Effective, Study Finds