“Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me…Be my advocate, be my friend, and we’ll see just how far we can go” –Ellen Botbohm, author of Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew.
Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a complex developmental disability. I happen to have two nephews with autism, one who I am very close to and interact with a lot. A child is usually diagnosed with autism during the first three years of life. It is a result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, and affects the development of the person’s communication and social interaction skills. A person with autism will most likely stick to certain behaviors and routines and will resist any change. No two people with autism have the same symptoms. Some may have mild symptoms while others may have more severe symptoms. Although there are treatments available, sadly there is no cure for autism.
Autism is diagnosed based on clinical observation and testing using one or more standardized tests by a team of doctors that include pediatricians, neurologists, occupational therapist, physical therapists, developmental specialists, and speech language pathologists. The pediatrician will do a general physical examination, which will then refer the patients to a neurologist. When I accompanied my sister to some appointments for her son, I realized the neurologist sent him for an MRI of the brain. I asked how this would help and he explained it would allow them to see if there is any underdevelopment with his brain. From there they are further evaluated by the psychiatrist or psychologist, as well as the speech pathologist or audiologist, to determine if there is any hearing loss or problems with language skills. The doctors will usually diagnose a patient by analyzing impairments in eye contact, facial expressions, and...
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