What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates with or relates to other people. It is a spectrum condition, meaning that some of those affected are extremely high functioning and able to (mostly) care for themselves, while others will need consistent and constant care for the rest of their lives. This sort of care is often more than parents alone can provide, and the most severe forms of autism are generally cared for under the direct supervision of a specialist. Development is often delayed to — specifically motor development — and leads to significant delays in learning to speak, as well as problems such as clumsiness, uncoordinated motor movements and repeated obsessive behaviors.
What is Asperger’s?
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism that finds those affected generally at the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to being able to live independent lives. They often have fewer problems with speech and motor skills and they are often of at least average intelligence. Children suffering from Asperger’s often show above average intelligence, and show interest in highly complex patterns and activities.
The following behaviors are often associated with Asperger’s syndrome, although all the behaviors are seldom present in any one individual.
- Robotic speech
- Inappropriate social interactions
- Challenges with facial expressions or non-verbal communication
- Tendency to display sociopathic behavior
- Inability to understand or express complex emotional behavior
- Lack of eye contact or attention
- Obsession with specific –often-unusual — topics
- Awkward movements or mannerisms
Autism or Asperger’s syndrome is often seen as just a series of personality quirks until the child — or adult — starts to show serious problems in school, the workplace, or their social lives. Those affected are often initially misdiagnosed with other behavioral issues such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) until it becomes clear that the issues aren’t stemming from a perceived lack of attention but rather an inability to socialize or show appropriate behavior when they need to.
Methods Used in Therapy for Autism or Asperger’s.
Many therapies — or combinations of therapies — are used to effectively combat Autism or Asperger’s. The most common of these is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) training.
The various types of Autism and Asperger’s Therapy include:
ABA Training is one of the most commonly accepted autism therapies. In fact, 32 of 50 states require that health insurers cover this form of therapy. ABA is based on the idea that people are more likely to repeat behaviors that are rewarded — or perceived as rewarded — than those that are simply ignored. Since the 1960’s therapists recognized that ABA helps children by allowing them to develop a number of skills as well as reducing the likelihood of engagement in so-called problem behaviors such as slapping, head banging, or screaming.
Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)
RDI training is relatively new in the field of autism treatments. It aims to teach children to engage in healthy social relationships with other people, something they are often incapable of doing on their own. RDI training teaches parents how to use opportunities — both good and bad — as teachable moments. These moments are then turned into engagement opportunities between parent and child while they build more appropriate social skills.
The goal of sensory therapy is to help regulate the child’s reaction to external stimuli, such as a being in a restaurant, their school classroom, the bath tub, or even with their parents and siblings.
For example, if the child is sensitive to water, the therapist will work in accordance with the parent to slowly but consistently desensitize him to the stimuli. The purpose of this therapy is to allow the affected party to become accustomed to the real world stimuli that they’ll face most regularly.
Why Hire a Therapist?
Autism and Asperger’s are serious conditions that can cause serious strain on familial relationships. Hiring a therapist not only helps you to change unusual or unwanted behavior patterns — but also helps you to move your child up the spectrum so that they can become more independent. Both Asperger’s and Autism are both conditions that require an incredible amount of time to show progress, and having a specialist that is willing to share some of the responsibility when it comes to treating your affected loved one makes all the difference.
What to Look for When Finding an Autism and Asperger’s Therapist.
Finding a specialist that is used to dealing with Autism and Asperger’s cases is the top priority. This is a very specialized condition, and experience makes a huge difference in the treatment. In addition, due to the complexity and the time consuming nature of the treatments, it’s necessary to find a doctor that has the time and attention that your loved one needs. With proper Autism and Asperger’s therapy, those suffering from spectrum disorders can move further up the spectrum toward normalcy and go on to live independent — or less dependent — lives.