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Can Autism be cured?
The reaction from parents when they first hear of their child’s diagnosis with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is nearly universal: their first question is whether or not there is a cure for the disease.
Everyone needs hope and no one likes to deliver disappointing news. Instead of an answer, most of those parents are instead pointed to common treatment options, usually including intensive courses of applied behavior analysis.
Although it is a common (and the only scientifically-proven) treatment for autism, ABA is not a cure for the disorder. In fact, most professionals believe that there is no cure for ASD. (ABAE)
How do you identify signs of Autism in young children?
Most parents find out about their child’s disorder in a similar fashion. However, it can be difficult for many new parents to identify autism symptoms because those symptoms can vary considerably and even overlap with other disorders or even with unusual behaviors that are nonetheless found even in neurotypical children. Common narratives revolve around children struggling to make eye contact, sounds made as a baby are different, not responding when the child's' name is called, among others.
All autism symptoms find root in one of three different categories:
No single category or symptom necessarily means that a child has autism. However, a combination of these at least means that it is time to get a professional opinion.(ABAE)
How is Autism Diagnosed?
Autism typically manifests before a child reaches the age of two, although for some Level One cases it may not become clear until as late as eleven.
The CDC (Centers of Disease Control) recommends that all children be professionally screened at 18 & 24 months.
Most autism diagnoses begin with a screening tool such as the M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), Ages and Stages Questionnaire, PEDS (Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status) or other type of questionnaire.
An M-CHAT, for example, is simply a list of questions asking parents about their child’s reactions in certain common situations. For example, they are asked if the child will look at an object if someone points at it, or if the child likes to climb on objects. Although by themselves, none of the questions necessarily indicates a problem, if enough fit the ASD profile, further screening is recommended.
A doctor or psychologist, usually in one of the following specialties, would typically perform that screening:
There are many advanced diagnostic tools used by those professionals in ASD testing, including:
None of these are used in isolation, however; the specialist will use one or more in combination with their own directed analysis of the child against the DSM-5 criteria. (ABAE)
What are intensive home based ABA services?
These are home-based services that are founded on a team approach, within a child’s home. The team would comprise of Behavioral Therapists, specialists from early intervention programs or public schools, and family members, who all work cohesively to provide intensive services. Supervision is provided by Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Research supports intensive services produce the best outcomes for children on the Autism Spectrum (Lovaas, 1987) (adapted from BABAS).
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