Friday, April 12, 2013

Autism across the lifespan

In one of my courses, we had to look over a large document about evidence based practices and autism in schools. I came across a section listing the symptoms of autism in all ages.  Most students commented in our class discussion by stating that they feel it is unethical for practitioners to tell parents that their child's autism will go away because it usually does not.  Most people associate autism with specific symptoms, usually those associated with early childhood and when those symptoms are no longer noticeable they hope that their child is cured or others assume the child is no longer autistic.  More often than not children do not outgrow their autism and this particular section discussed the symptoms in older ages.  Obviously, classic autism is still very severe and noticeable in older years, some of these symptoms are the ones that people don't always associate with autism.  Reading it took my breath away.  I, too, try to tell myself that Jacob will grow out of his autism or that his ABA therapy will eventually cure him.  I don't even need a doctor to tell me that, I just want to believe it. I do not think anything is impossible through God, but I trust that God's plan for Jacob is bigger than my own desires. What I want and hope for, may not be what happens.  Either way I will trust Jacob's perfect creator and know that whatever is in store for him is God's perfect plan for him and for our family.  Its hard to see how God can use this situation for His glory if I am in constant turmoil over it.  I want to be informed about what Jacob's future may look like so I am prepared to help him and be the best, most supportive mommy I can be.
 I wanted to share the information about "Autism across the lifespan" for parents and others to be able to read and to be aware of.  Also, I feel like there is such a lack of information in the media about autism and older kids and adults.    I must also state that every person with autism is a unique individual.  Some children may lose their autism diagnosis altogether and some may not.  I don't want this to be a discouragement to ASD moms, but more of a reference and possibly a preparation.  If your child had any illness, wouldn't you investigate what would happen and how to appropriately handle the situation?  I suppose that is how I feel about being educated on autism.  I am preparing myself to mother a child with autism for his lifespan, while hoping and praying that there is a possibility that he may lose his diagnosis.  My prayers go out to each and every ASD mom. 
This is very basic information on some of the symptoms of autism across a lifespan...
} Evidence-based Practice and Autism in the Schools

Autism Across the Lifespan
The symptoms exhibited by a student with ASD may change over time. A
child who receives speech services at age 3 may face very different communication
challenges by the time she reaches her high school years.
Each developmental stage brings its own challenges for all children, and this holds
true for students on the spectrum. You are more likely to see certain symptoms in the
toddler years, but these symptoms may be extremely subtle or non-existent by the
time the student reaches adolescence.
This pattern of development can be very confusing for individuals unfamiliar with the
autism spectrum because they expect the same symptoms to remain fairly constant
over time. In fact, some of these individuals may doubt whether an ASD diagnosis is
warranted due to preconceived notions about what a student with ASD should “look
like” at certain ages.
Table 1 lists some of the various challenges that students with ASD may face across
the years they are served in the schools. It includes an overview of symptoms commonly
observed at different stages in a student’s life. We recommend sharing this
information with colleagues who may have less experience working with students on
the autism spectrum.

National Autism Center
•May avoid touch
•May isolate from groups
•An infant may not imitate facial expressions
•Toddlers may not laugh in response to parent’s laughter
•Failure to respond to the emotional needs of others
Early School Years
•May not engage in social games
•May prefer younger children
•May appear “bossy” when playing with other children
Early Adulthood
•Gaps in social skills become even more apparent
•Dating challenges
•Social challenges sometimes related to issues such as poor hygiene (e.g., rigid adherence to rules
regarding frequency of bathing)
•May lack speech
•Immediate or delayed echoing of other’s words
•Use of scripted phrases
•May not respond to name
•Unlikely to use gestures
Early School Years
•May sound like “little professors” who are lecturing on a topic
•Conversations are one-sided
•May not see how their behavior hurts others
Early Adulthood
•Poor understanding of abstract concepts
•Challenges in understanding jokes or slang
•May mimic language from television or movies, placing them at risk for problems at schools (e.g.,
say “I’m going to get a gun and kill him” as a means of expressing anger or frustration)
Restricted,repetitive, nonfunctional patterns of behavior, interest, or activity
•Repetitive motor movements like hand-flapping, finger flicking, rocking, etc.
•May line up toys for visual examination
•May categorize toys instead of playing functionally with them
•Some rigidity in routines
Early School Years
•May create own rules to make sense of the world
 then have a hard time managing when others violate these rules
 Early Adulthood
•May engage in elaborate rituals to avoid motor tics
•May obsess for hours about a brief encounter with a peer
•Sensitivity to light or sound
•Feeding challenges (often associated with texture)
•Safety concerns (e.g., may run outside in bare feet into the snow)
Early School Years
•Academic concerns
•Difficulties with concentration and irritability due to sleep or communication problems
•May be disruptive during transitions
•May be clumsy in sports activities
Early Adulthood
•Symptoms of depression or anxiety
•Acting out
•May not understand rules regarding sexual behavior (and may be set up by peers to violate these
•Increased risk for seizures (associated with onset of puberty

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