Autism in Sydney and across Australia
Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a profoundly and poorly understood pervasive developmental disorder that severely impairs a person’s ability to communicate and interact socially, and is restricted by repetitive behaviour. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organise. There are several symptoms of autism.
Children with ASD are typically normal in appearance and physically well-developed. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. Obvious symptoms of autism gradually begin after the age of six months, become established by age two or three years and tend to continue through adulthood. Autism symptoms in adults include social and communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviours and interests (to the exclusion of normal healthy habits), and in some cases, cognitive delays- although the diagnostic criteria require that these symptoms emerged before the age of three, even if the individual was not assessed at the time.
Proper diagnosis of autism is important. It is also important to remember that autism is not distinguished not by a single symptom, but by a characteristic triad of symptoms: impairments in social interaction; impairments in communication; and restricted interests and repetitive behaviour. Other aspects, such as atypical eating, are also common but are not essential for diagnosis.
Although early behavioural or cognitive intervention can help children with autism spectrum disorder gain self-care, social and communication skills, not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, though some are successful in doing so. They are able to live an independent live through proper autism education.
Our experience at Learning Discoveries has shown that with effort and time, the following multimodal interventions are useful in ameliorating many of the autism symptoms in adults and children:
- diet (low allergenic, gluten-free, dairy free)
- nutritional supplements (Vitamin B, Magnesium, Essential Fatty Acids and others as per pathological and metabolic findings of the individual)
- EEG biofeedback training (synonymous with ‘neurofeedback’)
- autism spectrum disorder
- ABA training
- speech therapy
- Samonas Sound Therapy
- inhibition of primitive reflexes
- Sensory Integration methods
Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) differs from other autism spectrum disorder by its:
– later onset
– relatively well preserved language and cognitive development.
– the disorder manifestation can range from mild to severe.
While language development appears normal, individuals with Asperger’s tend to have significant difficulties in social interaction, communication, an inability to make friends, impaired emotional intonation and gesturing, pedantic monologues and the appearance of having a lack of empathy with others. Coupled with a restricted repertoire of interests e.g. rail and air time tables and repetitive patterns of behaviour.
Hence, those with Asperger’s Syndrome are often viewed as eccentric or odd which is due to their
“high degree of functionality” and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying. The exact cause of
Asperger’s Syndrome is unknown, although research supports the likelihood of a genetic basis and yet brain imaging techniques have not identified a clear common pathology.
What we do know is that the main features of Asperger’s Syndrome disorder become obvious during early childhood remain constant throughout life, although adaptation and degree of actual disability vary.
Asperger’s Syndrome is rarely recognised before the age of three and is more common in boys than in girls.
There is no magic bullet or quick fix and interventions are aimed at improving symptoms and function.
The mainstay of management is behavioural therapy, focusing on specific deficits to address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness. Most individuals improve over time, but difficulties with communication, social adjustment and independent living, can and often do continue into adulthood.
We are also able to offer autism education in our Sydney practice, to assist the families of individuals diagnosed with autism.