8 August 2019
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) consists of five separate conditions: Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Development Disorder. All are lifelong developmental disabilities that affect how people behave and interact with the world around them to varying degrees. The main features of ASD are difficulties in:
- Social interaction and communication,
- restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests; and
- difficulty handling deviations from set routines or disruptions to their surroundings.
In 2015, there were 164,000 Australians with ASD (results from the latest Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers) with prevalence in boys being four times higher than in girls. The symptoms are present in infancy, but may not be noticeable until the age of two or three years old. In some people, the diagnosis comes much later.
The causes of ASD are not fully understood, but research suggests that there may be genetic factors or something in the environment involved.
“Parents may notice that their child’s behaviour is unusual in the first few years of life. Early signs may include delayed speech, repetitive behaviours such as rocking or twirling, or spending hours focusing intently on one thing. Children with an ASD may lack interest in playing with other children, and in severe cases may show no interest in the surrounding world at all.” (Health Direct, 2018)
ASD may present substantial challenges for those affected, their families and friends. However, the social, communication and sensory deficits that some experience may be remediated with the use of intervention therapies and structured support to improve their psychosocial development. Research shows that the earlier a child is diagnosed and intervention implemented, the more likely it is they will develop the communication, social and life skills needed for a good quality of life.
Interchange Australia’s ASDESI program (Autism Spectrum Disorder Education, Support and Information) provides a range of education, support and information services for families caring for a young person (up to 18 years) with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to maximise the potential of each child and family. ASDESI offers a Holiday Kids Klub, held during every school holiday period. Children diagnosed with an ASD and their siblings can attend a wide range of fun, exciting and engaging outings that provide children with an opportunity to build social skills, confidence and to establish new friendships.
For more information about the Interchange Australia’s ASDESI program, please call Amber at 4868 6677.