Childhood Autism: Everything You Need to Know

This article explains everything you need to know about autism and how a psychologist can help a child that has been diagnosed with this condition. Read on to discover more!

What Is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way people perceive, think and behave. Symptoms typically appear during infancy or early childhood. As autism can range from being very mild to severely disabling, there is a wide spectrum of possible symptoms.

What Are the Main Signs of Autism?

People with autism often experience challenges in three key areas: social communication, social interaction and restricted or repetitive behaviours.

1. Communication difficulties. Many people with autism experience problems with both verbal language and nonverbal communication, although some may have no speech delay.

2. Social interaction difficulties. Social interaction problems are the leading symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These can include problems in any of these areas:

  • Not responding in social situations or when others talk to them
  • Not understanding or being aware of the feelings of others
  • Difficulty with developing relationships

3. Restricted and repetitive behaviours. People with autism may be very interested in a particular hobby or topic and talk about it all the time. They may also become preoccupied with certain objects (e.g. lining up toys rather than playing with them) and have problems coping when things are moved out of place.

How Will a Child Psychologist Treat Autism?

Therapy clinics aim to help children with autism improve their communication and social skills, so they can have a better quality of life. These may include:

1. Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) therapy. Children who take part in this type of therapy typically work with a psychologist over an extended time so they can learn adaptive behaviours to address the core social and behavioural impairments that typically occur in people on the autistic spectrum.

2. Sensory integration therapy. This aims to promote autistic children's understanding of the world around them and provide sensory stimulation that is considered appropriate for developmental age, thus improving their ability to integrate their senses. This can involve activities such as swinging, playing with water and sand, and getting children to work puzzles with their hands.

3. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). This type of therapy can help older autistic children cope better in everyday life. It involves changing the patterns of thinking that lead to the challenges associated with autism. It also encourages coping skills such as how to deal with anxiety and stress, as well as the development of social skills.

If you would like to find out more, contact a child psychology clinic today.