What Is ASD + Characteristics + Diagnosis:
What is ASD? ASD is a very individualistic thing but ultimately stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder, with “Spectrum” being the key word for understanding it. Pippa notes that they say that there are 100 types of autism definitions for 100 autistic kids. It’s a huge arc of behaviors that go from the low-functioning far-left to the high-functioning far-right side, the latter implying they can interact, adapt and be independent, might even have special skills, though this is quite unusual. One of the myths perpetuated by movies is that those with autism have the capacities of geniuses, while it’s the other way around—prodigies and savants relatively often score high on autistic traits. The initial challenge is to recognize the behavior for what it is and figure out whether it's an isolated occurrence that might be a quirk in a kid’s character or autism, behavior with a situational element, a frequency, a pattern.
Characteristics: Key characteristics of ASD tend to be centered around sensory stimuli, ritualistic behaviors, social inhibitions, incapabilities to read social cues, facial expressions and body language, isolation, lack of contact, avoidance of eye contact, not hitting fundamental milestones in development. Some early signs are a lack of smiling, pointing, repetitious behaviors, laughing or crying erratically and delay in speech. Typical interests for kids with ASD are often one particular object or movement, like lifts and fans, but some have no interest at all and need to be taught how to initiate their imagination and play.
Diagnosis: When it comes to diagnosis and assessment, moms often notice the signs early on themselves as the kid fails to hit the expected milestones. Sometimes a pediatrician will point it out and some parents might be in denial and do nothing about it for a while, especially as it is tied to shame in some Asian communities. It’s best to have kids diagnosed early, most ideally before 2, but this is often very hard. There are online home tests like ATEC, which is not fail-safe but is an excellent starting point. Usually, the pediatrician navigates the process, referring families to behavioral psychologists who do testing procedures and so on. But this is no cure and this is where the hard work starts. Kids with ASD might need to go to occupational, speech, behavioral, ABA, play or another form of therapy that will best suit your kiddo. The cost associated with special needs is always a challenge, but keep in mind that there are some options to alleviate the blow.