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Below are some frequently asked questions about autism:
Autism usually appears in the early years of a child’s life. It is complex and can affect a person’s communication, relationships, social skills, and self-regulation. Autism is known and often referred to as a Spectrum Disorder or Condition, because each person’s experience will vary a lot. Early intervention, therapies and education will help that person lead a life of choice and opportunity.
There is not one known cause for autism. It is something you are born with rather than something you catch or develop over time. It has been proven by researchers from Statens Serum Institut and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and Stanford University School of Medicine in the US, that vaccines and certain types of foods do not cause autism. Vaccinating your child is important to protect them from other illnesses. For more information visit the NHS website.
Autism is a lifelong condition; it is something you are born with and is usually identified in early childhood. It cannot be ‘cured’; if diagnosed early, education and where appropriate, therapy can help with the child’s development and communication, so they can live a life full of freedom and opportunity.
There are many different signs and indicators of autism in adults and children, which can often be mistaken for other conditions. It’s important that if you suspect you, or someone you love has autism, then seeking a diagnosis could help with getting the support that is available.
Yes, both boys and girls can have autism. It is quite common that the signs of autism often manifest differently, are missed or diagnosed as another condition within girls. Whereas autism in boys is more frequently recognised. This has led to the wide held belief that only boys have autism and not girls, which is in fact not true, and because of this, can sometimes make it harder for girls with autism to receive the help and support they need.
Autism can only be diagnosed when the signs have been present from early childhood (i.e. before 3). It is possible to receive a late diagnosis if the signs have always been present. If you or someone you know has suddenly developed behavioural or communication issues which were not present before, then this is likely down to another condition. You cannot develop autism in adulthood. If autism is suspected or even another condition, then this should be investigated.
You cannot do anything specific to prevent your child having autism; however, your child will grow and develop with the right education, support, and therapies.
Sensory activities help stimulate the brain and cognitive skills, develop social skills, and improve coordination and physical development. Some people are sensory seekers and others will avoid situations. Everyone’s sensory needs are different. Some sensory activity is also used for relaxation and comfort.
Some people believe that children with autism are naughty or poorly behaved. This belief, especially if shared with the child can be incredibly damaging to the child’s metal wellbeing, as well as spreading misconceptions about autism. Behaviour serves a function and should be viewed as a form of communication. Some people with autism communicate differently because their understanding of communication is different. We prefer to call some of these types of behaviour ‘behaviours that challenge’ as it is much more respectful to that child and their family. Behaviours that challenge can stem from feelings of frustration or being in an overstimulating environment. Consideration should be made about what the triggers are for that behaviour so they can be resolved, rather than just punishing the child. This approach is true for all children not just those who have autism.
To people with autism, the world can sometimes be a very confusing place. Everyone feels differently about their autism. Some people may be uncomfortable discussing it and other people view it as an important part of their identity. It’s always worth checking how that person feels and what their preferences are, before discussing autism with them.
For more information on autism take a look at our online training courses.