Autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complicated condition that includes problems with communication and behaviour. It can involve a wide range of symptoms and skills. ASD can be a minor problem or a disability that needs full-time care in a special facility.
Autism Signs and Symptoms
Social communication and interaction skills can be challenging for people with ASD. Some of the common symptoms are avoids or does not keep eye contact, does not respond to name by 9 months of age, does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age, does not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age, uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age, does not share interests with others, Does not point or look at what you point to by 18 months of age, does not notice when others are hurt or sad by 24 months of age, does not pretend in play, shows little interest in peers, has trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about own feelings at 36 months of age or older, does not play games with turn taking by 60 months of age.
Restricted or Repetitive Behaviours
People with ASD have behaviours or interests that can seem unusual. These behaviours or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by only problems with social communication and interaction. Restricted or repetitive interests and behaviours related to ASD can include: Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is change, repeats words or phrases over and over, plays with toys the same way every time, Is focused on parts of objects, gets upset by minor changes, has obsessive interests, must follow certain routines, flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles, has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel. Most people with ASD have other characteristics like delayed language skills, delayed movement skills, delayed cognitive or learning skills hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behaviour, epilepsy or seizure disorder, unusual eating and sleeping habits, gastrointestinal issues (e.g., constipation), unusual mood or emotional reactions, anxiety, stress, or excessive worry, lack of fear or more fear than expected
Occupational therapy (OT) helps people work on cognitive, physical, social, and motor skills. The goal is to improve everyday skills which allow people to become more independent and participate in a wide range of activities. For people with autism, OT programs often focus on play skills, learning strategies, and self-care. OT strategies can also help to manage sensory issues. The evaluation will also identify any obstacles that prevent the person from participating in any typical day-to-day activities. Based on this evaluation, the therapist creates goals and strategies that will allow the person to work on key skills.