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As outsiders looking in, Autism Spectrum Disorder can be a daunting and confusing illness. Living with a child who bears the burden of autism requires exhaustive allocations of family time, resources, and commitment. It also requires the stronghold of a family, and to not let go of the hope of being able to communicate with each other and with the illness. Family counseling is a key factor in autism treatment because the whole family is affected, keeping that in mind, this article outlines the various ways to identify, reduce, and diagnose some of the signs and symptoms that make up the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a group of developmental disorders that used to be separate behavioral disorders. ASD includes a range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability. Below is a short list of some acute symptoms:

  • Continuing social problems noticed within the first two years of life

  • Difficulty communicating and interacting with others

  • Persistent behaviors while lacking interest in others

  • Symptoms which hurt the individual’s ability to function socially and professionally

 

While the symptoms of ASD may not impair all individuals, others are severely disabled. Treatment will always improve a person’s ability to function and live, but it will not always cure. The understanding that there is hope, but no answer, can sometimes cause families to pause treatment or even halt it in order to save the family time, money, and stress.

The Autism Spectrum Disorder, as defined within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes the previously separated Asperger’s syndrome. But, rather than generalizing ASD the new edition in the DSM-5 gives a broad range of the characteristics and severity of the illness, showing it as a spectrum from functional to highly disabled.

Signs and Symptoms

In the early stages of ASD, the two primary signs to identify behaviors on the spectrum are:

  1. Restricted / Repetitive behavior

    1. Repeating specific behaviors, and having unusual ticks or quirks

    2. Exceedingly focused on some interests, like moving an object

    3. Carrying on a deep-rooted interest in certain topics, like numbers and dates

  2. Social communication / Interaction behavior

    1. Making little to no eye contact

    2. Becoming less social, and interacting less with people

    3. Being triggered or upset by a change in routine, or a new situation

    4. Responding in unusual ways when others show emotion

    5. Slow response time when called to attention

    6. Being less able to carry a back and forth conversation

    7. Talking at length about an obsession oblivious to others interest in it

    8. Echolalia: repeating words or phrases that are heard

    9. Misusing words in order to convey personal and sentimental feelings

    10. Mismatched facial expressions

    11. Monotonous tone of voice

    12. Inability to understand multiple perspectives, or understand others actions

Other symptoms include sensitivity to light, noise, clothing, and temperature; which can evolve into sleeping disorders, eating disorders, and irritability.

Often, individuals outside the spectrum misunderstand ASD and assume it includes savant, or prodigal symptoms, which are romanticized in television and film. However, there are strengths and abilities which play a fundamental role in individuals with ASD:

  • Above average intelligence

  • Learning in detail and being able to retain information for longer periods of time

  • Strength in audio and visual learning

  • Excellence in math, art, science, and music

Diagnosing ASD

Reliable diagnostics of children with ASD occur by the age of two. By watching the child socialize, communicate and play, a diagnosis can be made. However, diagnosing adults with ASD is very difficult. Because the symptoms have been long unnoticed or ignored, they may overlap with other mental illnesses. Once diagnosed, The adult will be able to understand past difficulties, identity and practice their strengths while obtaining the help they require and desire.

Below is a general guide to diagnosing and identifying ASD:

  1. Early checkups

    1. Get a specific ASD screening within 24 months of age

    2. If a family member has ASD get check-ups frequently to prevent misdiagnosis

  2. Additional evaluation

    1. After an initial diagnosis is made with a pediatrician, a specialist can assist in the earlier stages

    2. The targeted areas of concern will include: developmental care, behavior care, psychiatry, and speech pathology

    3. Evaluation at this juncture will determine: cognitive level, language ability, skills needed to complete daily activities, blood tests, and hearing tests

  3. Diagnosis for older children and adults

    1. After a special education team identifies ASD they will prepare a plan

    2. Social difficulties and communication problems will be understood and identified. For instance: understanding tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, understanding figures of speech, humor, sarcasm, and trouble forming friendships

    3. Adults will need further treatment plans which include, psychology, psychiatry, and an ASD expertize

    4. Plans will be constructed to combat any concerns around: social interaction and communication challenges, sensory issues, repetitive behavior, and restricted interests

Recommended treatment plan

Getting treated with ASD early will help the outcome of success for therapy. It will also reduce any difficulty an individual with ASD has in learning new skills and able them to make the most of their strengths. There is no cure, no one pill, or one plan. Because ASD is on a spectrum, its treatment programs have a wide array of issues.

Tips and tricks

  1. Keeping a detailed notebook is an excellent way to keep track of the information doctors, special education teachers, and health care providers give you. It will lessen the amount of information you need to memorize, and help you store information, names and medical details for later.

  2. Keep a record of doctor visits, and diagnostics. This will also aid you in selecting programs for the family member with ASD. This tool is handy, even if you are the individual with ASD because it will assist in any memory gaps or attention problems.

  3. Continuously monitor and contact local ASD programs to stay up to date on treatments available in and out of your area.

  4. Find a specialist by talking to a pediatrician, school official, or physician to make a plan and gather resources.

  5. ASD support groups are an excellent way to share support, information, and relieve stress and emotions which have been gathering around your family. Going to a support group also helps to hear testimonials from families who have gone through similar processes.

Risks factors

No one knows the exact science hind ASD, not even scientists. The research compiled does suggest that genes and environment play a huge role in the causes of ASD; nature and nurture. Some research has gathered the following information:

  • Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls

  • When a family member has ASD, it might reoccur within the family

  • Parents who reproduce at older ages have a more likely possibility of carrying children with ASD

  • Genes: a gene conditioning can increase chances of having ASD in 20% of children.

Medication

Although there is no medication to stop or cure ASD, there are medications which can assist in decreasing health concerns and mental side effects.

Medication can assist in decreasing:

  • Irritability

  • Aggression

  • Repetitive behavior

  • Hyperactivity

  • Attention problems

  • Anxiety and depression

 

Medicine and psychology are practices; they are not an exact science. However, in many cases, medication does help the patient. When it comes to individuals who possess ASD, medicine seems to work only as far as it is taken or administered. Once treatment is halted or stopped, medication tends to wear off, and the patient will return to their original state of mental health.

In order to impact the individual with positive change, the brain needs to learn and create healthier patterns of connectivity. Once these are developed, the brain remembers the new patterns, and like riding a bike can comfortably make connections.

Clinical Trials

Joining research trials and clinical studies are necessary in order to develop new medications and treatment plans for ASD. Nonetheless, it is not recommended to push, force, or pressure anyone to join a study unwillingly. Clinical trials are not easy, and they require time and patience. As of currently, there is no cure to ASD, and joining a study will not ensure you or your family will receive a new cure to ASD. The goal of a trial is to determine if new treatment plans are safe and reliable. There may be positive progress and benefits to being in these trials. However, the primary purpose is to advance scientific knowledge for future generations. Another thing to keep in mind, the decision to join a trial may be yours, but the doctors and researchers are running the trial have the final say on the matter.

BrainPaint neurofeedback

Research has shown that BrainPaint neurofeedback reduced the symptoms associated with ASD. Dr. Robert Coben, a neuropsychologist from New York, and his colleague Dr. Ilean Padolsky conducted a study called, and published their work titled, “Assessment-Guided Neurofeedback for Autism Spectrum Disorder”. The study included 37 ASD children and showed an improvement of 89% in the experimental group, as reported by parents. Covering subjects from:

  1. Speech, language, and communication

  2. Sociability

  3. Sensory and cognitive awareness

  4. Health, physical ability, and behavior

BrainPaint Neurofeedback uses biofeedback technology in order to determine and establish the viable patterns in the brain. Individuals who have ASD have confused and dysregulated patterns in the brain, which means they different connections in the brain to certain areas, while others are lacking altogether.

Neurofeedback enables specialists to monitor and stabilize brain function. Many positive results have been identified as research and treatment continues on the subject. Some noted improvements are listed below:

  • Accomplished touch and contact

  • Decreased emotional outbursts

  • More concise speech

  • More creative and imaginative thought

  • Better initial responses to instruction

  • Fewer outbursts to change

  • Less impulsive and hyperactive activity

  • Less anxiety

  • Increased social skills and relationship progress

  • Ability to identify feelings and emotions

Results

One of the best applications of BrainPaint Neurofeedback is that its results have yet to have any adverse side effects. The common misconception about BrainPaint Neurofeedback therapy is that once the session is over, the individual is cured. Every type of medicine is time relevant; meaning it takes time to see the results. However, time is only one aspect of healing. Our brains are affected by our environment, and what we feed it. Good nutrition, exercise, therapy, and healthy relationships are all a prescription for better results in treatment. These things are not easy to come by because more often than not, an individual cannot be in full control of their world and surroundings. Therefore, it is ok to ask for help from a specialist in how to find a proper balance for yourself.

In Conclusion, Family counseling is a helpful and successful treatment plan for individuals who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder. These sessions enable families to begin to work together and see ASD as something to build on, rather than fear. The strengths that individuals with ASD can harness are dramatically improved after working with BrainPaint neurofeedback because it works in a similarly to exercise. The short term goals are to determine what areas of the brain are working and which areas are n dysfunction. The long term goals are to utilize the networks in the brain which are working, as well as strengthen new patterns of neurological connectivity. ALthough it is hard work, sessions with BrainPaint have had immense success with no negative side effects because it is not an intrusive or medicated treatment. An all natural and alternative modern force to change the way we have classified ASD individuals has finally made its way into the psychotherapy field and is being backed up by many researchers and specialists. If you or someone in your family suffers from ASD, after a screening, reaching out to a specialist to determine a fitting treatment plan is ideal.




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