About SMC

At SMC Speech Pathology based in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, we pride ourselves on providing a quality service. Our aim is to improve the quality of life for all children who require support be it for a simple lisp or for a more severe disability. We strive to provide evidence based practice and care above and beyond what is necessary or expected. We are approachable and always willing to listen to parents/guardians, as your thoughts, feelings and expertise as a parent are always welcome.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder, which affects all aspects of a child’s development. Children with ASD have impairment in social relationships, communication, restricted/repetitive interests and impaired imagination skills. In conjunction with this children may have significant motor and sensory difficulties.  The problems children with ASD experience are likely to continue through adulthood. No two children with ASD are the same, as symptoms and behaviours vary from child to child. Symptoms also vary from mild to severe.

 

What is the cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

At present there is no single, known cause for Autism. Most experts agree that Autism Spectrum Disorder is the result of a number of different factors that affect the developing brain. It has been well established that in some cases there is a genetic component associated with the disorder.

Some of the other factors that are believed to be potential causes include:

  • Exposure to viral diseases and infections
  • Physical trauma
  • Metabolic disorders

 

 

What are some red flags of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

NB:// Not all children who have autism will present with all of these red flags.

 

  • Dislike change to routine
  • Difficulty forming friendships
  • Literal use and understanding of words
  • Little use of facial expression
  • Little use of gesture
  • Delayed speech or very “formal” speech
  • Echolalia
  • Difficulty using social smile (does not respond to a smile with a smile)
  • Unusual use of eye contact (e.g. may not establish eye contact with people, or looks at toys from unusual angles)
  • Pays little or no attention to the needs and feelings of others
  • Repetitive, stereotyped and restricted interests and behaviours
  • Responds to objects/toys in an unusual and repetitive way (e.g. lines up cars)
  • Unable to understand that an object can be used for another purpose (for example in play a child does not understand that a paddle pop stick may be used as spoon).
  • Shows intense level of interest in one area (e.g. can appear to be obsessed with something such as Thomas the Tank Engine).

 

Is it true? Are children with ASD visual learners?

Children with autism spectrum disorder are primarily visual learners and this should be taken into consideration when trying to teach or explain something to a child with autism. Children with autism are described as being 90% visual learners and 10% auditory learners. The use of visual strategies are strongly recommended to improve communication, help improve behaviour, facilitate learning and to develop independence skills.

 

Can you help me understand the spectrum that is AUTISM!

Autism can be better understood if looked at as a continuum. Each of the core features can be looked at as a continuum of severity, as the degree of impairment in different features can vary. The severity of features of autism from one child to another is different as no two children with the disorder are the same.  The effects of Autism can range from mild to severe and some features of autism can be context dependent. A pictorial representation of the diversity of autism is below:

 

This table was developed and created by the Australian Autism Education and Training Consortium, Autism Spectrum Australia, University of Canberra, Autism SA and Department of Education and Training WA.


 

Further information on autism can be obtained from the following websites:

http://www.nas.org.uk

http://www.autismspeaks.org/

http://www.activ.asn.au/parentportal/

http://raisingchildren.net.au/

http://www.autismvictoria.org.au/home/

http://www.connectgroups.org.au/

http://www.karenstagnitti.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/What-is-Pretend-Play-Full.pdf

 

Some useful fact sheets about autism can be obtained from Positive Partnerships.


 

 

References

- Howlin, P. (1998) Children with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Brisbane: John Wiley and Sons  

- Quill, K. (1995)  Teaching Children with Autism: Strategies to enhance communication and socialisation. Delmar: Cengage Learning.

-Tissot, C., Evans, R. (2003). Visual Teaching Stratergies for Children with Autism. Early Child Development and Care, 173, 425-433

- Australian Autism Education and Training Consortium. (2010) Parents and schools in positive partnerships.