By: Laura Bueche MOT OTR/L
Every April 2, in conjunction with the international autism community, Autism Speaks spreads awareness of autism spectrum disorder with its Light It Up Blue Campaign. Thousands of organizations around the world, such as Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley participate in this event to spread education, resources, and awareness for greater understanding and acceptance of Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopment disorder. It refers to a wide range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and non-verbal communication. The Term “spectrum”
reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.
There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 68 births in the United States – nearly twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125 – and almost 1 in 54 boys.
Signs and Symptoms
People with ASD often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.
Children or adults with ASD might:
- not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying overhead)
- not look at objects when another person points at them
- have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
- avoid eye contact and want to be alone
- have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
- appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
- be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
- repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
- have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
- not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to feed a doll)
- repeat actions over and over again
- have trouble adapting when a routine changes
- have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
- lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)
Meet Some People With Autism
Autism Diagnostic Clinic at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley
Early detection and intervention is the best way to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities gain greater independence. If you are concerned about your child’s development inquire about our medical diagnostic and autism diagnostic clinics.
Additional Services at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley for Children & Young Adults with Autism Include:
- Occupational therapy to learn daily life skills and help integrate sensory processing difficulties
- Physical therapy to improve strength, endurance, and gait
- Speech therapy to help children with ASD improve speech, articulation, language , and interaction
- Assistive technology to give children a way to access language through technology devices
- Social Work services to support families and provide behavior strategies
- Parent Liaison services also offers parents support and are full of great recourses
- Case Management services to help coordinate this complex network of caregivers and providers
- Feeding Clinic and Nutrition Therapy provide families with feeding, digestive, allergy, food sensitivity, GI, and sensory related issues.
- Easter Seals also offers families a variety of community outreach programs including: social groups, physical fitness groups, feeding groups, and aquatics.
To learn more about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley’s Autism services visit our website.