World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day
World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day

In 2007, The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. It’s aim is to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life for those with autism which should not prevent anyone from leading a full and meaningful life within society.

2024’s theme for Autism Awareness Day is “Moving from Surviving to Thriving“. In order to raise awareness, it’s important to first understand the different types of autism. With every individual’s experience being unique, learning the different types of autism is not only helpful but essential to developing successful treatment plans that can be tailored specifically for your loved one.

“Autism can’t define me. I define autism.” – Dr. Kerry Magro, Award Winning Speaker on Autism and Neurodiversity.

What are the Traits?

Boy and puzzle and Understanding the Different Types of Autism

Traits of autism can vary, but common signs include certain behaviours around social interaction, communication and self-expression body language/stimming.

Children with autism may also have sensory differences, such as being sensitive to noise or light.

Support Available

Autism and treatments and Understanding the Different Types of Autism

It’s crucial for individuals with autism to receive support from a multidisciplinary team of professionals, including paediatricians, psychiatrists, and therapists.

Families and caregivers can also benefit from support groups and educational resources.

How You Can Celebrate World Autism Awareness Day

– Promote understanding and acceptance of the autistic community within your friend and family circles.
– Organise an activity or day out for the autistic person in your life.
– Educate yourself by reading books or watching videos relating to autism and different experiences.

The Different Types of Autism

Classic Autism

Classic autism or kanner’s syndrome, is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Classic autism affects communication and social behavior. It’s seen as a range of conditions as it can have an effect on people in different ways and may show up differently in each individual.

Common Traits of Classic Autism:

  • Differences with language development.
  • Certain traits around social interaction.
  • Self-expression body language/stimming or specific routines.

Support includes behavioral management therapy and cognitive behavior therapy depending on the needs. In Ireland, there are a variety of resources available for individuals and families. The HSE provides a range of services, including assessments, diagnosis, and support for children and adults. There are several non-profit organisations such as Autism Ireland, AsIAm, and the Irish Society for Autism that provide information, advocacy, and support.

1 in 65 or 1.5% of the school-going population in Ireland has a diagnosis of autism.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

PDD-NOS is a term used to describe a group of disorders characterised by differences around socialisation and communication skills. It’s considered a milder form of autism. People with PDD-NOS often display traits of autism but do not meet the criteria for a specific diagnosis of autism.

Common Symptoms of PDD-NOS:

  • Differences around language development.
  • Certain traits around social interactions.
  • Self-expression body language/stimming or specific routines.

However, the characteristics of PDD-NOS can vary widely from person to person. It’s important for individuals with PDD-NOS to receive early intervention and support to help them overcome any challenges. Treatment typically involves a combination of behavioral therapy, speech therapy and skills training.

Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is a rare genetic neurological disorder that affects the development of the brain. It primarily affects females.

Common Traits of Rett’s Syndrome:

  • Differences around communication.
  • Issues with coordination.
  • Other developmental milestones.
  • Breathing problems.

There is currently no cure for Rett Syndrome, but there are supportive treatments that can help manage it and improve the quality of life. Support can involve medication for breathing irregularities, occupational therapy and physical therapy to prolong mobility.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

This is a rare condition that affects children between the ages of 3 and 4 years old. Children with this disorder will experience a significant loss of language, social, and motor skills that have been previously acquired.

Common Symptoms of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder:

  • Significant loss of language, social and motor skills that have been previously acquired.
  • Differences around social and self help skills.
  • Problems in the nervous system involving speaking and breathing.

Understanding the various types of autism is important as it can provide insight into what someone with autism experiences. As technology evolves and medical science progresses, the definitions and categories will likely expand and become even more finely tailored. While no two people with autism are the same, knowing the different types is a valuable step toward helping others who have it and understanding it in the best way possible.

Here at Autism Assessment Centre, when there is a question about your child’s functioning, we understand how important knowledge and trusted guidance can be. Whether there is a diagnosis or not, we will always take time to walk you through the process of getting help for your child. Our services include a multidisciplinary/ multi-factor assessment that results in a report and feedback session to guide you to the next steps.

Autism Assessment Centre

Understanding: We strive to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible.
Empathy: We always listen to and support the children and families who come to us.
Professionalism: Our clinicians are experts in their field.
Quality: Our reports are written to meet HSE standards.

World Autism Awareness Day

Find out more about our services and how we can help.

Clinicians, Physicians, and Autism: Navigating Support and Understanding

Clinicians, Physicians, and Autism: Navigating Support and Understanding

Clinicians, Physicians, and Autism: Navigating Support and Understanding

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by differences in social interaction, communication, and self-expression behaviours that presents as unique complexities. As the prevalence of autism continues to rise globally, the need for informed, compassionate, and effective support from healthcare professionals becomes ever more paramount. Clinicians and physicians are an important factor in understanding and addressing the diverse needs of individuals.

According to Ireland’s National Autism Charity, around 3.3% of people in Ireland are autistic.

Four times as many males have autism (79%) compared with females (21%), and this gender disparity is more pronounced in younger ages, according to the NASS Autism Supplementary Report 2020.

By staying informed about the latest research and diagnostic criteria, clinicians and physicians play a central role in the comprehensive assessment, diagnosis, and ongoing evaluation of autism. Through their comprehensive understanding of autism, which includes recognising the diverse range of presentations within the spectrum, from mild to severe, and understanding the associated strengths and challenges, they pave the way for better support and care.

Diagnostic Tools

The DSM

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is one of the most widely used diagnostic guides for autism by healthcare professionals across the world. 

The ICD-11

The International Classification of Diseases  (Version 11). This is seen as the global standard for coding health information and causes of death.

The ADOS

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule is a semi-structured observational assessment of social communication and behaviour such as play-based observation.

The ADI-R

The Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised. Usually an interview conducted with the parents of individuals who have been referred for assessment.

Diagnosis Assessment can be acquired in two ways – Publicly through the HSE or Privately 

Publicly:
The Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland provides autism-specific services, including assessment, diagnosis, and intervention. They explain how to help your child with day to day life, advice about medicine and medical problems and how to help their behaviour, as well as other forms of advice.

Privately:
Here at Autism Assessment Centre, when there is a question about your child’s behaviour, we understand how important knowledge and trusted guidance can be. Whether there is a diagnosis or not, we will always take time to walk you through the process of getting help for your child. Our services include a multidisciplinary/ multi-factor assessment that results in a report and feedback session to guide you to the next steps.

Autism Assessment Centre:

• Our client-centred approach allows us to educate, assess, and support your needs directly.
• We can facilitate a full range of services that adapt to specific needs, organised in an efficient manner.
• We understand your world, we speak your language.
• With the right people and the right skills and knowledge, we are ready to support you.

Jennifer O’Neill, Specialist Services Manager/ Autism Assessment Centre says:

As the manager of our Specialist Services department, I see my role not just as a profession but as a deeply rewarding experience of support and understanding. I take immense joy in being part of the journey for children and families as they strive to achieve their goals.

In our Autism Assessment Centers across Ireland, collaboration is the cornerstone of our approach. We recognise the importance of working closely with parents, caregivers, and educators to ensure seamless support for each child’s development.

Our team’s specialised expertise in autism is pivotal in conducting thorough and accurate assessments, which serve as the crucial first step in a child’s journey. Clinicians are the driving force behind this process, utilising their skills and knowledge to provide insightful evaluations that guide families towards the most appropriate interventions and support services.

Our assessments pave the way for children to access the early interventions and support they need to thrive. I deeply appreciate and recognise the vital role that clinicians play in this journey, as their dedication and expertise significantly contribute to positive outcomes for the children and families we serve.

1. Care After Diagnosis

Clinicians and psychologists play a key role in care after diagnosis. This may include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), social skills training, and sensory integration therapy, among others. Clinicians and psychologists collaborate closely with individuals and their families to identify goals, address specific challenges, and monitor progress over time.

  • Sensory integration therapy: By providing structured sensory experiences and activities, this therapy helps individuals regulate sensory responses and improve the ability to participate in daily activities and social interactions.
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): Offers a valuable therapeutic approach, addressing cognitive, emotional, and social differences inherent to the condition. By integrating CBT into comprehensive treatment plans, clinicians and psychologists contribute to a more inclusive and supportive environment.
  • Social skills training: Involves structures designed to teach individuals with autism the communication skills necessary for successful social interaction.

2. Collaborative Care

Effective support for individuals with autism often requires a multidisciplinary approach that extends beyond the healthcare setting. Clinicians and physicians can facilitate collaboration with educators, therapists, and community resources to ensure comprehensive care that addresses the unique needs of each individual. By fostering partnerships with other professionals and advocating for inclusive practices, they can contribute to improved outcomes and enhanced quality of life for individuals.

  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: By fostering communication and coordination, clinicians ensure that support services are seamlessly integrated to address the comprehensive needs of individuals with autism across various settings, including home, school, and community.
  • The Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs): Specialised support and services for children who have complex health needs. Children gain significant benefits from ongoing access to and support from a wrap-around interdisciplinary team service, guided by an Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP).
  • Advocacy and Empowerment: By providing information, guidance, and support, clinicians empower individuals with autism and their families to make informed choices, advocate for their needs, and collaborate effectively with healthcare professionals to ensure optimal outcomes.
  • Primary Care: These are providers of services for children with non-complex needs, such as one or more impairments. Care comes in the form of public health nurses, community speech and language therapists, family doctors and community physiotherapists. 

In the complex landscape of autism, clinicians and physicians serve as crucial allies, playing a key role in developing and implementing the above approaches. Through their knowledge of autism, multidisciplinary methods, and collaborating closely with individuals and their families, they serve as indispensable pillars of support, understanding, and advocacy. By fostering a holistic approach that considers the unique strengths and challenges of each individual, they contribute to a more inclusive and supportive society encompassing compassion, empathy, and dedication. This empowers individuals to thrive and reach their full potential.

Find out more about how our Autism Assessment Services can support your family.