There are many different definitions of Autism, below is a summary of the major characteristics of Autistic Spectrum Disorder as we understand them. We understand that every child with Autism has varying degrees of severity regarding the individual characteristics. We’ve learned with our son, that one day he may be overly sensitive to something, and the next day under-sensitive to the same thing.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of the five pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) of the brain, which is characterized by widespread abnormalities of social interactions, communication, severely restricted interests (lack of creative or imaginary play), and highly repetitive behavior. Additional conditions associated with autism are:
1) Sensory abnormalities – found in over 90% of those with autism.
2) An estimated 60%–80% of autistic people have motor signs that include poor muscle tone, poor motor planning, and toe walking.
3) Unusual eating behavior occurs in about 75% of children. Selectivity is the most common problem.
4) Emotional detachment from immediate family, including parents.
We believe it takes a thorough evaluation to develop the diagnosis and truly help the family understand which characteristics and conditions most impact their child, and therefore their family. Once you have absorbed the information, there are resources available to help you create a plan with the intention of helping you and your child learn how to better manage their challenges. Resources may include school districts (well before school age), state (in our state it’s called Department of Developmental Disabilities), doctors, therapists (occupational, physical, and speech), and the internet or books. With our son, the largest challenges were sensory integration (all 5 senses, improved through occupational therapy), social interactions (we still work on this daily as a family), poor muscle tone (horse back riding therapy helped), and restricted interests (we still work on this daily). He still exhibits the other conditions and characteristics above, but to a much lesser degree.
We understand there are financial considerations involved with doctors and therapies, however, you don’t need to wait for a diagnosis to begin helping your child. Initally, there are books, the internet and other parents to start you on the path. We hope by providing this website, we can give you a start. Eventually, we hope to provide some funding to be of assistance to people who have a financial need and the desire to commit to work required to help their children succeed. Our definition of success is growth and improvement, not being “typical”.
As parents who frequently discuss this diagnosis with others, we have simplified our description, especially when speaking with our sons friends or other children. We simply say, he processes things differently, and is sometimes uncomfortable in new situations or around new people. You might want to consider looking at your child’s greatest challenges and create your own short description to help explain his diagnosis to others without the medical mumble-jumble. This might make others more comfortable in discussing the diagnosis and allow you an opportunity to educate them.