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Autism Psychologist Sydney
at iflow Psychology

Autism Therapy for Individuals and Families

What is Autism?

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. People with autism may have difficulty with social interaction, have repetitive behaviors, and may have difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication. They may also have sensory processing issues, such as being oversensitive to certain stimuli or under-sensitive to others.

 

The severity of autism can vary greatly, and some people with ASD may have only mild symptoms, while others may have more severe symptoms that significantly impact their daily lives.

 

There is no known cure for autism, but intervention and support can make a significant difference in the lives of people with ASD.

People with high functioning autism may have fewer challenges with communication and may have higher cognitive abilities compared to those with more severe forms of ASD. However, they may still have difficulty with social interactions and may have repetitive behaviors or narrow interests.

 

High functioning autism is a broad term and can refer to individuals with ASD who have above average cognitive abilities and relatively mild symptoms. It can refer to individuals with ASD who have more severe symptoms but still have the ability to live independently and hold down a job.

 

It's important to note that every person with ASD is unique and may experience a wide range of symptoms and challenges.

The core symptoms of ASD are:

  1. Difficulty with social communication and interaction: This can include difficulties with:

    • ​Nonverbal communication (such as facial expressions and body language),

    • Difficulty initiating and maintaining conversations, and

    • A lack of interest in socialising with others.

  2. Restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests: This can include a need for:

    • Routines and a resistance to change,

    • A focus on specific interests or activities, and

    • Repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping or rocking.

  3. Symptoms must be present in early childhood: ASD symptoms typically appear in the first two years of life, although they may not be diagnosed until later.

Symptoms of Autism in Women

Symptoms of ASD can be similar in both men and women, although research suggests that women with ASD may be less likely to have intellectual disability and more likely to have problems with social communication and interaction.

 

Women with ASD may also be more likely to mask their symptoms, which means they may appear to be more socially competent than they actually are. This can make it more difficult to identify and diagnose ASD in women.

If you think you or someone you know may be on the autism spectrum, the first step is to speak with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or a mental health professional, who can evaluate your symptoms and discuss the appropriate next steps.

To diagnose autism in adults, a healthcare professional will typically conduct a thorough evaluation, which may include:

  • A review of the person's medical history, including any past developmental milestones and any current or past symptoms.

  • A psychological assessment to evaluate the person's mood, behavior, and social functioning.

  • Where necessary, a cognitive assessment to evaluate the person's cognitive abilities, including their memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.

  • A speech and language assessment to evaluate the person's communication skills

The healthcare professional may also ask the person and their family members or close friends about the person's behavior and development throughout their life. This can help the healthcare professional get a better understanding of the person's symptoms and how they have impacted their daily life.

If the healthcare professional determines that the person meets the criteria for an autism diagnosis, they will discuss treatment options with the person and their family.

 

Treatment for autism can include therapy, medication, and other interventions to help the person manage their symptoms and improve their daily functioning.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides guidelines for diagnosing ASD and classifies the disorder into three levels of severity.

 

It's important to note that the severity levels are just a general guide and are not meant to be used as a definitive way to classify individuals with ASD. It's also important to remember that every person with ASD is unique and may experience a wide range of symptoms and challenges.

What is Level 1 Autism?

Level 1: Requiring support: Individuals in this category have mild symptoms and may require support in certain areas, such as social communication. They may have difficulty with social interactions and may have repetitive behaviors or narrow interests, but they are able to live independently and hold down a job.

Requiring substantial support: Individuals in this category have moderate symptoms and may require more support in areas such as social communication and daily living skills. They may have more challenges with social interactions and may have more repetitive behaviors or narrow interests than those in level 1.

Requiring very substantial support: Individuals in this category have severe symptoms and may require significant support in all areas of functioning. They may have difficulty with social interactions, communication, and daily living skills, and may have more severe repetitive behaviors or narrow interests.

Here are some common signs of high functioning autism in adults:

  1. Difficulty with social interactions: People with high functioning autism may have difficulty interpreting social cues, such as body language and facial expressions, and may find it hard to initiate or maintain social relationships.

  2. Repetitive behaviors or interests: People with high functioning autism may have narrow, obsessive interests and may engage in repetitive behaviors, such as hand-flapping or rocking.

  3. Difficulty with communication: People with high functioning autism may have difficulty understanding or expressing themselves through spoken language, and may also have difficulty with nonverbal communication, such as eye contact and facial expressions.

  4. Sensory sensitivities: People with high functioning autism may be sensitive to certain sounds, textures, or smells, and may find certain sensory stimuli overwhelming or uncomfortable.

  5. Difficulty with change or routine: People with high functioning autism may have a hard time adjusting to changes in routine or surroundings, and may become anxious or upset when their environment changes.

  6. Difficulty with executive functioning: People with high functioning autism may have difficulty with tasks that require organization, planning, and problem-solving skills, such as managing time or completing multiple tasks simultaneously.

  7. Struggles with academic subjects: People with high functioning autism may struggle with certain academic subjects, such as math or reading, and may have difficulty with reading comprehension or understanding abstract concepts.

It's important to note that these signs can vary widely among individuals with high functioning autism, and that not all people with high functioning autism will exhibit all of these signs. It's also worth noting that these signs can be present in individuals with other conditions as well, so a thorough evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional is needed to make a diagnosis.

Your Autism Psychologist Sydney

A psychologist can help individuals with high functioning autism in a number of ways. Some of the ways a psychologist may be able to help include:

  1. Assessing and diagnosing autism: A psychologist can perform assessments to determine if an individual has high functioning autism and provide a diagnosis. This can help individuals and their families understand the individual's strengths and challenges and develop a treatment plan.

  2. Providing therapy: A psychologist can provide therapy to individuals with high functioning autism to help them improve their social skills, communication skills, and ability to cope with and manage their emotions. This may include behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or other evidence-based therapies.

  3. Consulting with families and caregivers (where appropriate and approved): A psychologist can work with families and caregivers to provide support and guidance on how to best support the individual with high functioning autism. This may include providing education about autism, helping families develop strategies to manage behaviors, and providing resources and referrals to other professionals or support services.

  4. Collaborating with a treatment team: A psychologist may work with other professionals, such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, and medical doctors, to provide comprehensive care for individuals with high functioning autism.

It's important to note that treatment for high functioning autism should be tailored to the individual's specific needs and should be based on the best available evidence.

 

A psychologist can work with the individual and their family to develop a treatment plan that meets their needs and goals.

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