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What is autsim?

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I am not an expert but because I will be talking about autism and my children a lot I want to share a basic definition of Autism with you, and also how to explain Autism to others.

I talk to my kids and their friend said about Autism and keep it simple and find that they get it a lot more than adults. Even now some of our extended family and friends still don’t quite understand. I have another blog post on talking to children about autism.

When talking to kids or people who have no experiance with Autism go slow, keep it normal and remember no one else’s reactions change what you know. That the person who is Autistic in your life is the same awesome person with or without their approval.

Definition
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex lifelong developmental disability that is neurological [Autism Association Of Western Australia] Autism effects how people communicate and interact with others, and how they perceive the world. Autism is different for everyone, which is why it is called a spectrum.

Characteristics
The term Autism is used to describe a group of closely related disorders which belong to the same diagnostic category and share core symptoms [1]
These characteristics include
• difficulty relating to and communicating with others
• Restricted interests/ relationships and play
• Restricted routines
• Repetitive behaviours (some obvious others not)
• Sensory issues [1,2]
Some people on the Autism spectrum have below average intelligence and others in the typical or above average. This use to be referred to as functioning labels or Aspergers. But doesn’t accurately describe or acknowledge individuals. Autism can also be seen with other medical conditions. It is not exclusive. Eg epilepsy, fragile x, apraxia.

The term spectrum is used because it is different and presents differently for each person. Symptoms can be subtle and not obvious until kindy/school age or even late adolescence and adulthood. Some people live independently and others need extra support. There are shared characteristics but they can present differently in different people.[3]

How is it diagnosed
The diagnosis process. Can take a long time, and can often be very exhausting and stressful on families and individuals.
A multidisciplinary medical team is required to assess and agree for someone to receive an autism diagnosis. For children, This usually starts as a GP referral to a developmental Paediatrician. They then refer on to a psychologist and also a speech therapist who do individual assessments. The team then use the Diagnostic Statistical Manual Of mental disorders (DSM) which has a strict list of signs and symptoms that need to be present for a diagnosis. [2]
There is no such thing as a “bit autistic”.

Why get a diagnosis?
As many families with children who need extra support know, getting any services is hard. Trust your gut. Once a diagnosis of Autism is received you get access to specialist services, Support, and education. The earlier a diagnosis, the better chance of getting appropriate help and support. A diagnosis isn’t a label. It is part of who you are, and as a mum helps give me the knowledge to work with and support my children in the way they need.

I will be sharing more of our family’s s Autism journey as we go, but remember I am not an expert. Talk to your GP, child health nurse and Paediatrician.

The following websites provide amazing information and resources, and were used in this blog. For more resources head to the resource page 
[1] Autism Association Of Australia.
[2] Raising children Network
[3] Autism Awereness.


 

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