Are more children being diagnosed with autism?

What do parents do after getting an Autism diagnosis?

For parents considering the way forward after getting an Autism diagnosis – it is important to understand that their child’s Autism is a complex neurological disorder that affects the way the child communicates with people, interacts with the world, and the way that the child will learn and develop.

Autism can manifest itself in different ways and to varying degrees, making it a highly individualized condition. The following deficits are however at the core of any autism diagnosis:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts;
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, and/or activities.

The most common characteristic of autism is difficulty with communication, both verbal and nonverbal. This difficulty can significantly impact a child’s ability to learn and socialize with others and the only way to help your child overcome these challenges is with Early Autism Intervention.

A good Autism Early Intervention program for your child will include a multi-disciplinary approach which includes:

  1. Speech Therapy: Speech therapy for children with Autism is vital -it can help children with autism develop their communication skills, including verbal and nonverbal communication.Speech therapy may also include strategies such as teaching children how to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, sign language, and/or picture exchange communication systems.
  2. Occupational Therapy (OT): OT is another therapy that is vital for an Autistic child’s development. It can help children with autism develop their fine motor skills, self-care skills, and sensory processing abilities.OT may also include strategies that teach children how to use adaptive equipment or sensory integration therapy should it be necessary for the individual child.
  3. Physical Therapy has many benefits as it can help children with autism develop their gross motor skills and coordination. Whilst an OT will also work on gross motor skill development a daily physical therapy session will greatly improve a child’s balance and core body strength as well as co-ordination abilities.
  4. Social Skills Therapy is a powerful tool that helps children with autism learn how to interact with others and build relationships. Social skills need to be worked on daily and in a variety of group-orientated situations.
  5. Developmental Play Therapy: Developmental play therapy can help children with autism develop their cognitive, social, and emotional skills through play-based activities and play intervention.
  6. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): the introduction of the PEC system during early childhood development is particularly important for building communication.
  7. Sensory Integration Therapy: Sensory integration therapy can help children with autism learn how to regulate their sensory experiences and respond appropriately to different stimuli.
  8. Autism-specific pre-academic or academic curriculum –depending on the child’s age and abilities, academic or pre-academic support should be included because children that are on the spectrum learn differently from normal developing children.
  9. Individualized goals: Each child with autism is unique, and their intervention plan should be tailored to their individual needs and goals.

Enrolling their child in an Autism specific preschool or academy will help mitigate the impact of autism on the child’s development.  Parents must remember this: “During the preschool years, children are rapidly developing their language and social skills. Without intervention, a child with autism may struggle to keep up with their peers and fall behind in all areas development.”

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.