Autism is a disorder that affects communication, relationships, tolerance, and flexibility. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists 5 criteria to provide a diagnosis of Autism. These 5 criteria include:
a) deficits in social interactions and vocal or non-vocal communication
b) restricted or repetitive behavior, preferences, or routines (includes hypo- or hyper- sensitivity to the environment)
c) these symptoms must be present in early life
d) these symptoms must significantly affect daily functioning
e) symptoms are not otherwise explained by intellectual disability
We no longer categorize Autism under “high” or “low” functioning as these words suggest a relation to intellectual capabilities. There is now a severity level that can be specified by the diagnosing physician. These severity levels range from “requiring support” to “requiring very substantial support”. As noted before, Autism does not directly affect intellectual ability. Rather, intellectual disability can co-occur with Autism, just as it can with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and others.
Research shows that children with Autism respond more positively to reinforcement and limited punishment. Excessive punishment has shown to further alienate and isolate Autistic individuals. Adults modeling threatening or violent behaviors can also intensify symptoms of autism. For better short- and long-term outcomes, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and its preventative and reinforcement-based techniques is most effective. With behavior analysis, ABA professionals can study the individual’s environment and identify the right skills to teach for a full and meaningful life. ABA services should always strive to teach safer and more fruitful behaviors while maintaining individuality. ABA services should never be cookie-cutter.
For more information on autism and the services we provide, please visit our initial process page or contact us at (305) 204-7037. Parents, teachers, community centers, and all, are welcome to reach out!