Sunday, April 2, is World Autism Day. Autism is a neurological condition that affects the way a person communicates, interacts with others, and perceives the world around them. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a range of conditions that includes autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and other pervasive developmental disorders. In Australia, it is estimated that 1 in 150 people have ASD. Autism seems to have become more prevalent recently; however, that is probably due to better recognition and availability of assessment.
The symptoms of autism can vary greatly from person to person, but they generally fall into two categories: 1) social communication and/or 2) repetitive or restrictive behaviours. Social communication symptoms include difficulties with eye contact, understanding and responding to social cues, and engaging in conversation, while repetitive or restrictive behaviours include repetitive movements or speech, obsessive interests or routines, rigidity of thoughts, and sensitivity to certain sounds or textures. Furthermore, research suggests that autistic people are more prone to experiencing anxiety and estimates that up to half of all autistic people experience high levels of anxiety on a regular basis.
Autism can be diagnosed at any age, but it is usually diagnosed in childhood. Early diagnosis and intervention are critical for helping children with autism to reach their full potential. Some common interventions for autism include psychological and behavioural therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. An assessment for autism may include a clinical interview and mapping of the symptoms onto the DSM 5 criteria, screening questionnaires, and/or an ADOS or a MIGDAS assessment.
In Australia, there are many resources available for individuals with autism and their families to get support. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a government-funded program that provides funding for disability-related support and services, including those related to autism. The NDIS provides funding for a range of supports, including therapy, equipment, and assistance with daily living activities. There are also many non-government organizations that provide support and services for individuals with autism in Australia. These include therapy services, employment support, and educational resources.
In addition, there are many online resources available for individuals with autism and their families in Australia. The Autism CRC is a research organization that provides information and resources related to autism. The organization has developed a number of resources, including the Autism CRC Knowledge Centre, which is a comprehensive online resource for individuals with autism and their families.
While there is no cure for autism, early diagnosis and intervention can help individuals with autism to reach their full potential. If you would like to discuss assessment or support services, don’t hesitate to give Psychology ONE a call on 07-5329-6991.