Frequently asked questions
What is Autism?
Autism, more commonly referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by clinicians and families, is a neurological condition that limits a child’s ability to develop social relationships and communicate.
One in every 57 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Canada. This neurodevelopmental disorder alters how the brain processes and organizes information. This impairs a child's reasoning, intuition and perception abilities and creates barriers in verbal and nonverbal communication.
ASDs are referred to as autism spectrum disorders because all children diagnosed with autism are unique as their skills strengths and deficits are unique. Because ABA therapy is evidence-based it is recommended as the treatment of choice for autism.
What are some symptoms or characteristics of autism spectrum disorders?
Symptoms/behaviors of ASDs can range from mild to severe and may seem to appear gradually or suddenly. In some cases, parents have also noted regression. Atypical development may be observed from birth, or more commonly, become noticeable during the 12- to 36-month period. Symptoms include:
Children with autism have difficulty in social interactions. They may avoid eye contact and interactions with people and resist or passively accept attention. They are often unable to read social cues or exhibit emotional reciprocity. Thus, they are unable to predict or understand other peoples’ behavior. They may also have difficulty controlling emotion, may be disruptive or aggressive at times, or may lose control, especially when frustrated or presented with a new situation or environment. Head-banging, hair-pulling and arm-biting may occur.
Communication skills are affected in children with autism, but difficulties vary. Some children may have good basic language skills, but exhibit difficulty initiating or sustaining conversations, such as not giving others the opportunity to respond. Others may experience delays or regression in language development; still others remain mute or may use language in unusual ways, such as repeating a phrase, or parroting what they hear (echolalia). Body language is also often hard to read in children with autism. Facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures often do not match verbal content and emotions. They have difficulty expressing what they want or need. They may also appear deaf, not responding to their names or attempts at conversation.
Patterns of behavior, interests and activities may be restricted, repetitive or stereotyped. For example, a child may spend long periods of time arranging specific toys in a particular manner, rather than playing with the toys. Intense preoccupation with certain topics, such as obsessively studying maps, may also be seen. Odd repetitive motions, either extreme or subtle, such as arm-flapping, freezing, rocking back and forth or walking on their toes may also occur. Often, people with autism demand consistency in their environment. A minor change in routine may be tremendously upsetting.
In children with autism, the brain seems unable to balance the senses appropriately. Many autistic children are highly attuned or even painfully sensitive to certain sounds, textures, tastes or smells. Some seem oblivious to cold or pain but react hysterically to things that wouldn't bother other children. In some people, the senses are even scrambled. For example, touching a certain texture may induce a gagging response.
At what age can a child be diagnosed?
To date, no biological diagnostic tests exist that detect autism. There are screening tools and tests that measure the prevalence of symptoms. Symptoms may be present from birth or may occur after months of normal development. However, no two children with these disorders behave the same way. Children as young as 18 months may be diagnosed but have different clinical features than an older child with autism.
What kind of symptoms or characteristics should I look for?
Between 18 months and 36 months, symptoms may include:
- Limited pretend play
- Lack of pointing to demonstrate interest
- Reduced gaze following
- Less frequent demonstration of repetitive, stereotypic behaviors
- Not responding to name
- Lack of imitation
- Lack of joint attention
In children with autism between 2 years and 3 years of age, the following features may be observed:
- Communication difficulties
- Socialization deficits with caregivers
- Perceptual sensitivity
- Other difficult behaviors
- Splinter skills
Contact us at email@example.com to get a full list of developmental milestones and the symptoms to be considered for every age group.
What are the available treatments for autism?
There is no one treatment for ASDs; however, it is widely accepted that the earliest interventions allow the best outcomes. Treatments generally address both cognitive and behavioral functioning. They may include a combination of behavioral therapy (ABA/IBI therapy), psychoeducation, family support groups, educational interventions, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and specialized training to develop and improve acquisition of necessary skills. Applied behavioral analysis may be an effective adjunctive treatment in reinforcing desirable and reducing undesirable behaviors. Other work focuses on improving social communication in children with autism. Some have found that structured multidisciplinary behavioral programs are more successful. Parental involvement, a predictable schedule, regular behavior reinforcement and active engagement of attention in highly structured activities to enhance a strength or ability may all contribute to creating an effective treatment program.
My child is diagnosed with autism. What do I do?
Once you get a diagnosis for your child, contact an ABA professional to get your child assessed. To do this, look for ABA center in your area and discuss the next steps. A BCBA or other professional should also be able to discuss about the funding options available within your region.
Who would provide ABA therapy? Who would work with my child?
A BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) would assess the child and make a treatment intervention plan. An RBT and/or professional within the field of behavior analysis provides therapy using one-on-one intensive teaching format. The BCBA oversees the treatment and provides continual supervision throughout the course of treatment.
Should my child receive home based IBI or center based IBI therapy?
Based on the assessment conducted by a BCBA and parent goals, in home therapy or center based therapy or a combination of both may recommended.
What is the cost of ABA therapy?
The session cost for ABA therapy may differ across ABA Providers within the region. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 647-994-2109 for more information.