What is Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role.
What are some of the common symptoms of ASD?
ASDs begin before the age of 3 and last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with ASD show hints of future problems within the first months of life. In others, symptoms may not appear until 24 months or later. Some children with ASD seem to develop normally until around 18-24 months of age and then stop acquiring new skills or lose the skills they once had.
A person with TEA could:
- Not respond to their name by 12 months
- Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
- Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
- Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
- Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- Have delayed speech and language skills
- Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Give unrelated answers to questions
- Get upset by minor changes
- Have obsessive interests
- Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
- Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel.
How can I have my child evaluated for Autism?
If you suspect your child may exhibit some signs of Autism, you can contact your pediatrician, the San Diego Regional Center, or a private based Psychologist.
What is ABA?
Behavior analysis is a scientific approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. “Behavior” refers to all kinds of actions and skills (not just misbehavior) and “environment” includes all sorts of physical and social events that might change or be changed by one’s behavior. The science of behavior analysis focuses on principles (that is, general laws) about how behavior works, or how learning takes place.
For example, one principle of behavior analysis is positive reinforcement. When a behavior is followed by something that is valued (a “reward”), that behavior is likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may be harmful or that interfere with learning. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is. the use of those techniques and principles to address socially important problems, and to bring about meaningful behavior change.
Why choose ABA?
ABA methods have been used successfully with many kinds of learners of all ages, with and without disabilities, in many different settings. In the early 1960s, behavior analysts began working with young children with autism and related disorders. Those pioneers used techniques in which adults directed most of the instruction, as well as some in which children took the lead. Since that time, a wide variety of ABA techniques have been developed for building useful skills in learners with autism of all ages.
Those techniques are used in both structured situations (such as formal instruction in classrooms) and in more “natural” everyday situations (such as during play or mealtime at home), and in 1-to-1 as well as group instruction. They are used to develop basic skills like looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills like reading, conversing, and taking the perspective of others.
The use of ABA principles and techniques to help persons with autism live happy and productive lives has expanded rapidly in recent years. Today, ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. It has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the US Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health.
How do I receive ABA services?
ABA services can be provided by the San Diego Regional Center, your medical insurance, or on a private pay basis. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) says that children under the age of 3 years (36 months) who are at risk of having developmental delays may be eligible for services. These services are provided through an early intervention system in your state. Through this system, you can ask for an evaluation.
What causes Autism?
We do not know all of the causes of ASDs. However, we have learned that there are likely many causes for multiple types of ASDs. There may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors.
- Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop an ASD.
- Children who have a sibling or parent with an ASD are at a higher risk of also having an ASD.
- ASDs tend to occur more often in people who have certain other medical conditions. About 10% of children with an ASD have an identifiable genetic disorder, such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders.
- Some harmful drugs taken during pregnancy have been linked with a higher risk of ASDs, for example, the prescription drugs thalidomide and valproic acid.
- We know that the once common belief that poor parenting practices cause ASDs is not true.
- There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASDs occurs before birth. However, concerns about vaccines and infections have led researchers to consider risk factors before and after birth.
ASDs are an urgent public health concern. Just like the many families affected in some way by ASDs, CDC wants to find out what causes the disorder. Understanding the risk factors that make a person more likely to develop an ASD will help us learn more about the causes.
What is a BCBA?
The Board Certified Behavior Analyst is an independent practitioner who also may work as an employee or independent contractor for an organization. The BCBA conducts descriptive and systematic (e.g., analogue) behavioral assessments, including functional analyses, and provides behavior analytic interpretations of the results. The BCBA designs and supervises behavior analytic interventions. The BCBA is able to effectively develop and implement appropriate assessment and intervention methods for use in unfamiliar situations and for a range of cases.
The BCBA seeks the consultation of more experienced practitioners when necessary. The BCBA teaches others to carry out ethical and effective behavior analytic interventions based on published research and designs and delivers instruction in behavior analysis. BCBAs supervise the work of Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts and others who implement behavior analytic interventions.