Q. Is there a cure?
There is no cure for Autism. However, many children can develop better communication and social skills through early detection and behavioral-based interventions. A variety of interventions, based on empirically validated behavioral and learning theories, have been shown to be effective when applied to children with Autism. Interventions typically focus on imitation skills, play skills, language comprehension and usage, and social interaction. Some children may also benefit from medications to reduce anxiety and problematic behaviors.
Q. My child’s teacher says he/she may be on the spectrum. Should I take it seriously?
Teachers have the rare opportunity to observe your child in the uniquely difficult school setting, where peer relationships and having the ability to express oneself is very important. Naturally, it is imperative to seriously consider the teacher’s concern. However, teachers are not mental health professionals and cannot definitively diagnose Autism. If you suspect that your child has symptoms that resemble Autism, please contact a mental health provider.
Q. I keep hearing about vaccinations being responsible for Autism. Is there anything to it?
This topic has been widely covered in the media and many studies have been conducted to examine the effects of vaccines on the emergence of Autism. Based on a very large body of literature, we can say that vaccines definitively do not cause Autism. While there may be a correlation between the time when a child typically receives vaccines and the typical age when Autism emerges, there is absolutely no causation between the two.
Q. What is the difference between Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome?
Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are both Autism Spectrum Disorders. Individuals with Autism demonstrate deficits in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors or interests. They may also have unusual responses to sensory experiences. Asperger’s Syndrome is considered to be “high-functioning Autism”, meaning that people with this diagnosis have average or above average IQs and do not display other symptoms of autism with the same intensity. Sensory integration problems, “stimming” behaviors, and narrow interests may still be present, but most people diagnosed with Asperger’s can function independently. The most obvious symptoms are likely going to be social skill impairments. The ability to do appropriate nonverbal behaviors, as for instance keeping eye contact, recognizing facial expression, body postures, and gestures may also be impaired. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome often find it difficult to have “normal” social relationships.
Q. Is it my fault as a parent?
Autism is a medical condition and it is neither yours, nor your child’s fault. You may have read about “refrigerator mothers” with cold and detached parenting styles, who were blamed for their child’s Autistic characteristics. This theory has been widely refuted and there is absolutely no reason to believe that anything you have or have done as a parent could have prevented or caused your child’s Autism. If you experience excessive shame and doubt, please contact your mental health provider.
Q. Will my child have to go to a special school?
Decisions about appropriate school settings are made depending on the severity of the Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Mainstream education may be just as successful as special programs. The important thing to remember is that your child has the right to receive appropriate accommodations and be in the least restrictive environment possible. If you believe that your child’s school has not made all the necessary accommodations, it is important to advocate for your child and make sure they receive all the services they are entitled to.