Autism FAQs



There is nothing that can prepare a parent for the news that their child has been diagnosed with autism. The Cincinnati Center for Autism is a resource to help families find answers to their questions, and put the pieces together.

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions parents of newly diagnosed children have about autism.

What is autism?
What are some of the signs and symptoms of autism?
Are there effective treatments for autism?
What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy?
What are the benefits of ABA therapy?
Are there other therapies my child might need other than ABA?


 

What is autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder. (1)

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What are some of the signs and symptoms of autism? 
People with ASD often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.

  • Children or adults with ASD might:
    • not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
    • not look at objects when another person points at them
    • have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
    • avoid eye contact and want to be alone
    • have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
    • prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
    • appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
    • be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
    • repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
    • have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
    • not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)
    • repeat actions over and over again
    • have trouble adapting when a routine changes
    • have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
    • lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using) (1)

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Are there effective treatments for autism?

While there is no known cure for autism, there are treatment and education approaches that may reduce some of the challenges associated with the condition. Intervention may help to lessen disruptive behaviors, and education can teach self-help skills that allow for greater independence. But just as there is no one symptom or behavior that identifies individuals with autism, there is no single treatment that will be effective for all people on the spectrum. Individuals can use the positive aspects of their condition to their benefit, but treatment must begin as early as possible and be tailored to the child’s unique strengths, weaknesses and needs.(2)

A notable treatment approach for people with an ASD is called applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA has become widely accepted among health care professionals and used in many schools and treatment clinics. ABA encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors in order to improve a variety of skills. The child’s progress is tracked and measured.(3)

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What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy?

ABA us a natural science approach to the study of behavior. ABA has become one of the most widely used practices for effectively teaching individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Using tools and techniques proven effective through extensive research, ABA based programming supports the development of skills related to daily living, social interaction, communication, play, learning readiness, academics and more!

Additionally, ABA is used to support a decrease in challenging behaviors which act as barriers to students’ capacity for learning.

Staff at the Cincinnati Center for Autism all have training specific to the principles of ABA. They also receive additional training and constant supervision around the particular students with whom they are working by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. By using this approach to teaching, we work to capture the natural motivation of our students to assure students are actively and happily involved in the learning process. Learn more about CCA’s education and therapy options.

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What are the benefits of ABA therapy?

A number of completed studies have demonstrated that ABA techniques can produce improvements in communication, social relationships, play, self care, school and employment. These studies involved age groups ranging from preschoolers to adults. Results for all age groups showed that ABA increased participation in family and community activities. (4)

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Are there other therapies my child might need other than ABA?

Children with autism often benefit from a comprehensive treatment program. This is why each student in the Cincinnati Center for Autism’s School program has a team to assist in developing the correct curriculum to meet their educational, behavioral, and emotional needs. This team includes a BCBA, Intervention Specialist, Speech Therapist, Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist. Student Individualized Education Programs (IEP) are also followed closely and data is taken daily to assure correct teaching methods, intervention strategies, and progress. Learn more about CCA’s comprehensive School Program.

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More questions? Visit Autism Speaks for a free First 100 Days Tool Kit specifically designed to guide families through their first 100 days after receiving a diagnosis.

 

References

(1) Center for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html

(2) Autism Society, http://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/treatment-options/

(3) Center for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html

(4) Autism Speaks, http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/applied-behavior-analysis-aba

 

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