As autism awareness increases across the country, more parents are gaining an understanding that their kids are not just socially awkward or late bloomers but that they are living with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
There are different levels of disability on the Spectrum. Asperger Syndrome (AS) (also referred to as Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) are the mildest. HFA, though no longer an accepted medical term, refers to a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders and is quite similar to AS. However, the two can be differentiated by specific characteristics more commonly associated with one than the other. If you are concerned your child may be living with HFA, understanding the distinct signs and symptoms of HFA may help you decide if you need to look for treatment for autism in Little Rock.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disability that causes social, behavioral and communication challenges. Autism affects approximately one in every fifty-nine children in the United States. Symptoms vary widely from patient to patient.
Importance of Autism Awareness and Support
If you are looking for support services for children with Autism in Little Rock, knowing where in the Spectrum your child falls is important to finding appropriate care. Children with HFA tend to have very few intellectual challenges, and their IQ is usually above 70. Your child may score normally or above average on an IQ test and perform well in school, but she could still be autistic. Because children with HFA can have an above-average IQ and no intellectual challenges, High Functioning Autism awareness tends to be low. With little to no support for these children, they often become emotionally distressed.
Causes of Autism
The causes of autism have not been discovered, but doctors suggest the condition originates from structural underdevelopment of specific regions of the brain. There is no cure for ASD, but with therapeutic treatment for autism, your child can live a normal and fulfilling life. Knowing what to look for goes a long way in helping a child with autism receive the support they need.
Signs and Symptoms of High Functioning Autism
HFA is partly characterized by anobsession with a particular subject or activity. If you have noticed your child cannot get enough of a particular subject, it could be more than just a normal childhood love for dinosaurs or dogs.
The obsession can be positive in that it improves your child’s understanding of a particular academic subject or art. The increased interest in a specific field and subsequent excellence in the area has led to many scientific and mathematical inventions. Additionally, it can be a means of finding similarly minded children to encourage social engagement and activities.
However, these obsessions can cause a negative impact as well. If the obsession is interfering with social interactions or quality of life, support services can help them use their ability to hyperfocus in more effective ways.
2. Emotional sensitivity
Individuals living with High Functioning Autism are also prone to high levels of emotional sensitivity. Slight provocations — such as your use of language, noise, or even competition from siblings — can ruin the whole day.
Insufficient autism awareness coupled with the fact that High Functioning Autism is challenging to detect can make many children suffer extreme emotional sensitivity. This can also lead to intense sorrow and isolation after a trauma.
If your child is easily angered by small things and unable to let it go, it may be time to see a doctor.
3. Social problems
Children who live with HFA may also have challenges interacting with their peers. In most cases, the child will always be alone and tend to have difficulties with group discussions or teamwork. Without early intervention to help promote healthy interactions, the child may end up having significant challenges in his future professional life.
If your child has a problem with working or interacting with other kids, various forms of therapy can help them learn coping skills in a way they can understand without feeling overwhelmed. Remember, attempting to socialize your child will not ‘solve’ her autism. A specialist can help the child learn social skills in a very particular way.
4. Language peculiarities
Unlike their counterparts with low functioning autism who often struggle with language development, children living with HFA tend to have a better understanding of language. Your child’s peers will likely find it strange that he or she uses formal language rather than slang, causing children with autism to stand out.
Individuals with HFA are commonly referred to as having “fluent autism” and will often have a rich collection of vocabulary and no issue speaking or writing grammatically correct sentences. When this particular use of language is combined with a narrow range of interest, a choice of wording and phrasing that is regularly odd could signal HFA.
5. Sensory difficulties
Almost all children who have autism spectrum disorders find processing sensations a challenge. Your child’s senses may either be under or overly sensitive, or both, and this can cause anxiety and stress as they try to process the world around them using their senses.
Physical sensation challenges may cause your child to be easily disrupted, such as by a level of noise or a smell that does not seem to affect their peers. Something as simple as a hug or flashing lights may overstimulate your child, and the result may be withdrawal or a meltdown. In such cases, seeking treatment for autism can help your child receive the intervention they need to manage sensory information better.
6. Little or no attention to caregivers
Children with High Functioning Autism have a problem maintaining eye contact with the parent or caregiver. They may not respond to caregivers in the way other children do. They may not laugh or play with the same mannerisms.
For example, when most small children find something funny, they look to their caregiver to see if the caregiver is sharing their amusement, signaling social awareness. When a child fails to look to the caregiver for a shared interest, it might be a sign the child lacks this particular social skill.
Treatment For Autism in Little Rock
If you or your child’s doctor are concerned about the presence of any of these symptoms or your child has been diagnosed with autism, Integrity, Inc. can help you find support services for children experiencing autism in Little Rock. Visit Integrity Inc. online or call us at (501) 406-0442 to learn more. We can provide information about what autism is and how your child can lead a normal life.