We all know that people with autism can be very bright and creative. But sometimes they need a little help to reach their full potential. Here are some ways that we can help people with autism be the best that they can be!
Early diagnosis and intervention
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurobehavioral condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate, interact with others, and have normal sensory and motor skills. ASD is typically diagnosed in childhood, and early diagnosis and intervention are critical to potentially improve outcomes.
There is no one cause of ASD, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Research suggests that ASD may be linked to a number of different medical conditions, including but not limited to:
- Tuberous sclerosis
- Fragile X syndrome
- Rett syndrome
- Manufactured nanoparticles
- Environmental exposures (such as certain chemicals or viruses) during pregnancy
Appropriate educational and therapeutic interventions
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping people with autism, there are certain interventions that have been shown to be effective in improving outcomes for individuals on the spectrum. These include educational and therapeutic interventions that are tailored to the individual’s needs and abilities.
Some people with autism benefit from specialized educational programs that use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) or other evidence-based approaches. These programs can help individuals develop essential skills such as communication, social interaction, and self-care.
Therapy can also play an important role in helping people with autism manage symptoms and improve functioning. Occupational therapy, for example, can help people with autism develop the skills they need to live independently.
Speech therapy can help individuals on the spectrum improve their communication skills. And behavioral therapy can help people with autism learn how to control their emotions and manage difficult behaviors.
Most people with autism have a below-average IQ and find it hard to communicate and interact socially. However, people with ASD can be helped to lead more independent and fulfilling lives by being included in mainstream education and employment where possible, and by having access to support services as required.
Inclusive environments are those that value diversity and difference and make reasonable accommodations for people with ASD so that they can participate fully. Inclusive environments can range from a child being included in a regular class at school, to an adult with ASD working in an office alongside non-disabled colleagues.
Mainstream education and employment provide people with ASD with the opportunity to develop their skills and abilities, socialize with their peers, and gain independence. Support services can include individualized education programs, counseling, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavior support.
Positive behavior support
Many people with autism can be helped by positive behavior support (PBS). PBS is a way of using rewards and consequences to encourage desired behaviors and reduce undesired behaviors.
It is based on the principle that all behavior has a purpose, and that by understanding the purpose of a person’s behavior, we can develop more effective ways to encourage the desired behavior and reduce the undesired behavior.
PBS is most effective when it is used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes other interventions such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. PBS should also be tailored to each individual’s unique needs and preferences.
Communication and social skills training may help some people with autism improve their ability to communicate with others and relate to them.
This type of training usually involves working with a therapist one-on-one or in a small group. The therapist will help the person with autism practice social skills, such as making eye contact, starting conversations, and maintaining a back-and-forth flow of communication. The therapist may also teach the person strategies for understanding and responding to the emotions of others.
Many people with autism find it difficult to get and keep a job. This can be for many reasons, including difficulty with social interaction, communication, and sensory issues.
There are a number of ways that people with autism can be supported in employment, including:
- Disability employment services: These services provide help with finding a job, keeping a job, and furthering your career. They can also provide support for employers.
- Supported employment: This is where people with a disability work in regular jobs, but with extra support. This support can be from a job coach or other co-workers and might include help with things like communication, social skills, and task management.
- Self-employment: Some people with autism choose to start their own businesses. This can give you more control over your work environment and allow you to work around your autistic traits.
It is important for people with autism and their families to start thinking about what happens when the person with autism reaches adulthood and is no longer eligible for services through the school system.
This process, called transition planning, begins at age 14 (or earlier, if desired) and should continue until the person with autism enters adulthood.
The goal of transition planning is to help the person with autism identify his or her strengths, interests, and needs; develop a plan for the future that includes post-secondary education or training, employment, and independent living; and identify the supports needed to achieve these goals.
A successful transition depends on cooperation and communication among the individual with autism, his or her family members, educators, health care providers, and other professionals.
Self-advocacy and support groups
Self-advocacy and support groups are valuable resources for people with autism and their families. These groups provide an opportunity to meet other people with autism, share information and resources, and advocate for the rights of people with autism.
Many self-advocacy and support groups are run by and for people with autism. These groups provide a place for people with autism to share their experiences and knowledge, and to support each other in leading self-determined lives.
Self-advocacy groups often focus on specific issues that are important to their members, such as employment, housing, education, or access to services. Support groups may provide general information and support, or may focus on a specific issue such as parenting a child with autism.