Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Children on the autism spectrum grow up to be adults on the autism
spectrum (this may seem obvious, but it is frequently overlooked). The
problems may change over time, especially as they move from one
developmental phase to the next.
- Females are more difficult to diagnose with autism. Recent research has
provided evidence to suggest that females are better at masking their
symptoms and often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. They tend to display
social skills similar to those displayed by neurotypical males but have
significant struggles nevertheless.
- Adults with an autism spectrum disorder often develop skills which can
mask their underlying condition (e.g., learn to maintain some eye contact,
develop a career based upon their circumscribed interests, learn the
meaning of familiar metaphors).
- Identifying an autistic individual at various levels of functioning can be
misleading, because they are often low in some areas, moderate in other
areas, and even high functioning in some things. Plus, their level of
functioning in any area can change over time, thus confusing the notion of
functioning at a single level in all areas.
- Children and adults with an autism spectrum disorder are often first
diagnosed with ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety Disorder,
Bipolar Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, or Nonverbal Learning
Disorder. Recent research has shown that children first diagnosed with
ADHD may be delayed in being identified on the autism spectrum and
receiving appropriate services.
- Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder may be quiet and seem shy
and introverted, or they may be very talkative and seem friendly, but they
are often socially inappropriate and have difficulty "reading" nonverbal cues.
- Not all individuals with autism have an intellectual disability or have
superior cognitive skills...their IQ can be at any level, and their diagnosis
on the autism spectrum does not depend upon their IQ. Their IQ does not
necessarily determine their level of functioning.
- The specific problems experienced vary and are often influenced by the
person's stage of human development and life experiences.
- Even though some individuals with autism may have a large vocabulary,
they are not always adept at finding the right words to adequately express
what they are trying to say and can become quite frustrated.
- Many of the problem behaviors or "meltdowns" associated with an autism
spectrum disorder are in response to sensory stimuli or sensory needs, or
they may result from frustration when trying to communicate with others.
- Autistic children who have higher cognitive abilities often have no
difficulty with schoolwork until around the 4th or 5th grade when their
peers begin understanding abstract concepts, and there are greater
demands for note-taking and organized written assignments.
- Although individuals with autism are known for their honesty (and
bluntness), they are also capable of lying.
- Considerations for psychotherapy may include mood management,
anger/stress management, identification of sensory needs, behavior
modification, coping skills to decrease anxiety, social/interpersonal skill
development, education about autism spectrum disorders for the individual
and family members, emotional support for parents and siblings,
development of time management and organizational skills, development of
adaptive skills, life coaching, career planning, and development of problem-