Types of autism spectrum disorders

Autism spectrum disorders can affect the communication process, social interactions, and present behavioral challenges. The symptoms can be recognized during the children’s early years, for that reason, parents must be very attentive to their behavior. However, several of these disorders appear for genetic causes, hence why doctors recommend that every kid should be genetically tested for any condition.

Since 2013, with the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth version), “autism spectrum disorders” is the terminology used to refer children with this diagnosis. The four previous denominations within the spectrum; autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder, are now all considered different manifestations of autism. Doctors use DSM-5 to unify their criteria and tests for a correct diagnosis of ASD, and thus have a better understatement of the various symptoms that present themselves in the children.

DSM-5 has three functional levels according to the support that children will need while growing up. These levels reflect how people within the spectrum can communicate, have social interactions, react to new situations, and manage daily life. But, even while the classification system is perfectly defined, it’s not always easy for doctors to fully evaluate a patient with symptoms of ASD and assign them to a specific level, especially because they can change levels while growing up and learning new skills.

Levels of ASD

The autism spectrum disorder can be so broad, that in it, there are individuals with severe intellectual and motor disabilities and others that have above average IQ; and while some people struggle with communication, others are public figures. That is the main reason behind the creation of the DSM-5’s three levels of ASD, which are:

Level 1

“Require support”: children and adults within this level have problems with communication and social interactions; usually people previously diagnosed with Asperger’s are here. This kind of people find it difficult to maintain conversations for long periods, and sometimes it’s hard for them to make friends. Routines are essential for them; even a small change can produce an adverse reaction. Therapy is a great way to help them develop social skills and control their anxiety.

Level 2

“Substantial support”: children and adults classified within this level of ASD have even more trouble with social interactions; some of them are non-verbal, don’t fully comprehend social cues, and their understanding of body language is practically non-existent. Casual observers can notice the difference between them and the neurotypical people. Both children and adults alike will need more specific types of therapy, such as sensory and occupational therapies, to engage in their surroundings.

Level 3

“Very substantial support”: children and adults placed in this level will require more attention by doctors and family because they have a severe lack of social skills and present repetitive and restrictive conducts that affect their lives and people around them. They really can’t tolerate any changes in their environments and have very few interests. Treatment can be challenging: therapy has to be more regular and cover a wide range of requirements, and they will also need a permanent caregiver to be in charge of them. Sometimes medication can help them to be calm and focused, but it must be administered at a doctor’s discretion.

This is a condition that can affect people in different ways, but that doesn’t mean they’re destined to have an unpleasant or dull life; on the contrary, most people within the spectrum try to enjoy their lives to the fullest while struggling with their daily challenges. These conditions don’t distinguish between races, gender, nationalities, and social status, anyone can be diagnosed with ASD.

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Types of autism with Autism Soccer

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How to Educate a Neurotypical Sibling?

No one prepared the parents of children with autism, nobody noticed or warned that the arrival of a child with ASD could be possible. So the education to raise our child with autism and our neurotypical child at the same time has been learned, after overcoming frustrations, book readings, training, patience, and a lot of creativity.

One of the most complex issues that parents face when it comes to educating children is to decide which pedagogical project or which educational line to choose. And things get even more complicated when you have to educate more than one child because the surprise is that there are no two children alike, and they never respond in the same way to the methods that already worked successfully in previous cases.

What to do when there’s a neurotypical sibling?

Imagine then what happens when one of the brothers requires somewhat peculiar educational methods. Educational methods that can’t be learned either from one’s own experience, from reflection during pregnancy, or from reading the books of preparation to be perfect parents of programmable children to respond accurately to each of the options.

In the case that a child with autism has neurotypical siblings, the situation may show clear divergences in the treatment given to the children. So, the question that parents should ask is: what to do when my child with autism needs certain strategies to learn but also does my neurotypical child?

How to integrate neurotypical and ASD children

When you have more than one child, and one of them has autism, there are two possible cases: the neurotypical being the firstborn or the child with autism being the firstborn. Let’s see:

  • If the first child has autism, and the parents have set to work, the second child arrives at a home where the pictograms and social stories are the order of the day. The second child simply learns to live like this, and in any case, it’s the parents who must re-practice a more relaxed and natural form of communication.

  • If the first child doesn’t have autism, and the parents already believe they have found the most appropriate educational method. In that case, it may become more difficult to integrate the older child into all those changes that occur in the dynamics of the family. Well for them, that looks like a great injustice. If they used to go out to any big party, why can’t they go now? If before spontaneously decided to go to the movies, to the circus, to the beach, why should we now live with an iron agenda that dictates our life?

Activities

We have to become accustomed to the normal jealousy of the children, to the competitiveness between brothers; but we need to change life and family dynamics for the new member of the family.

In a family, all members should know that they are part of a team and that they should be helping, supporting and waiting for others, when it’s necessary. Therefore, each of the members must have their spaces of freedom, and in the family as a whole should accommodate some dynamic and integration activities:

  • Days of games at home.
  • Family pajama parties.
  • Day of cooking, where the whole family participates in making meals.
  • Conversations where one of the parents is combined with one of the children, to maintain the family agenda without losing neither the spontaneity nor the multitudinous socialization.
  • Bread a weekly routine, where they have vacations, free days, family life. Activities and family time that will help them not to lose the energy of everyone. And so it allows the siblings of children with autism to develop and feel that they are listened to and taken into account, which they need.

 

Maintaining two lines of education can often be stressful, and above all frustrating for everyone, but with love, patience, and unity everything will be easier.

While neuroatypical children take energy and time, neurotypical children also have needs that require fulfillment from their parents and caretakers.

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Feeling of Failure in Autism

The environment, in general, can be very hostile towards people within the autism spectrum disorder; either by sensory saturation, by incomprehension of what’s happening, by zero empathy on the part of others towards him or her. We’re talking about an environment that makes it difficult daily, and as a result, we see that those pleasant moments are scarce.

But we must not forget that the person can develop a sustained sense of failure, an aspect that often begins in childhood. When a child with problems managing his own emotions and frustration presents explosive behaviors, he receives, in many cases, a correction of inappropriate behavior. That is, in the face of frustration at not being able to do something, he gets an attitude that he perceives as correct.

Autism and failure

This feeling of failure accompanies low self-esteem. A problem that, although many believe it wakes up in adolescence, we can begin to observe it in childhood. And there’s nothing sadder than seeing 5-year-olds with low self-esteem, although it’s sadder to see that nobody notices.

This can difficult the social life of the person with autism, and generate not only anxiety, frustration, and irritability, but also a sensation of failure. This can lead the person with autism to never assume new challenges in the future; creating a depressing feeling, which must be identified and stopped as soon as possible.

Working the self-determination and independence of the person is fundamental. It’s very important that we have as one of our objectives to promote independence, always create the necessary supports, and make sure that the person understands the process so he can succeed. The emotional reinforcer, always suitable to the age and environment of the person with autism, must be present in every step of the process.

Promoting independence and self-determination will strengthen the emotional state, the person must understand that things don’t always come out the first time.

The states of anxiety in people with autism are present since childhood. Understanding this is essential to develop educational and intervention programs in autism.

A program of emotional reinforcement is indicated for these situations.

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