Having autism doesn’t automatically mean you have issues that need to be seen by a mental health professional. However, there may be times when the need arises and in those times TOC clinicians can help. Autism is not a disease, it is a neurodevelopmental disorder. This means that your brain works in a different way from other people. There is no cure for autism nor is there a need for a cure but people may need support with carrying out age-appropriate tasks. Autism is diagnosed over a spectrum which means everybody’s autism is different (sometimes people use the word Asperger’s to describe people with autism who have average to above average intelligence). This also means that the support one needs will vary; some people with autism need little support whilst others might need a carer every day.
People with autism may find the following tasks difficult:
- Communicating and interacting with other people
- Understanding how others think or feel
- Adapting to a sensory stimulus like bright lights, or loud noises. These may be stressful and even overwhelming for the individual
- Settling down in unfamiliar situations (especially social settings). This can be overwhelming for the individual and result in feeling anxious
- Processing information
There is no known cause for autism. However, research has shown that there is a genetic link. Autism is not caused by bad parenting, vaccines, diet or infection. Autism can be associated with other issues such as learning disabilities, epilepsy, ADHD, dyslexia, and mood disorder.
It is understandable that there is some hesitancy over getting a diagnosis, however, the diagnosis will help with understanding your child’s needs or behaviours and the appropriate ways to help your child. It can help personalise the support your child may need in school in terms of classroom and exam support. The diagnosis can help you get help at college, university or work. If you are getting your diagnosis as an adult, it can provide a huge sense of relief and understanding of why you have always found some things harder than other people and why you have seen the world differently.
Here are some tips to help your child communicate:
- Use your child’s name so they know you’re speaking to them
- Keep the language used around your child simple and clear (don’t use sentences which can be interpreted differently)
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Use simple gestures to support what you are speaking
- Allow extra time for your child to understand what you have said
Dr Jennifer Greene, Hayley Su and Alex Koen are some of our specialists in this area