SED: 6021 Spring/Summer-07
Autism is a spectrum disorder. The symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe. Two children, both with the same diagnosis, can act very differently from one another and have varying skills. Public awareness of autism has increased and more and more children are being identified as having ASD. Early diagnosis, treatments and positive behavioral support is needed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Parents of children with autism often have many questions about their child's behaviors, diagnosis and treatments. The Book, The Autism sourcebook; Everything You need to Know About Diagnosis, Treatment, Coping, and Healing, ( Karen Siff Exkorn,2005) is an informative, easy reading, guide into the world of autism. Parents and educators will find it to be a vital resource book.
In Chapter 3, Understanding Your Child's Behavior, (Exkorn, K. pg. 38), the author discusses how most behaviors in children are considered typical behaviors but those same behaviors can be atypical in children with ASDs. It is a matter of severity.
One example would be children spinning around. All children engage in spinning. A typical child may spin around and fall to the ground laughing before switching to another
form of play. A child with ASD may spin for hours. Another example would be typical children who eat only chicken nuggets for every meal are considered to be picky eaters.
Children with ASDs who eat chicken nuggets for every meal are considered to be engaging in an idiosyncratic behavior characteristic of an ASD. The difference is the intensity, frequency, duration, and nature of the behavior. These behaviors are present along with a cluster of other behaviors that are symptomatic of ASDs.
Throughout this chapter the author list parental concerns and questions and then answer them by showing the parent what a typical child looks like verses a child with ASD in the same situation. I thought it was great how the author presented the parent questions and then the answers. I've heard many parents ask these questions and this chapter is a must read for parents, very informative.
In chapter 2, The science and fiction of Autism, (Laura Schreibman, 2005), the author discusses the characteristics of Autism. She states the hallmark feature of autism is the deficit in social behavior and attachment. Children with autism often do not bond with their parents, do not play with other children, may ignore or avoid the social initiation of others, and refer to be alone. She discusses each characteristic:
- Deficits in Social behavior and Attachment
- Deficits in Communication
- Restricted, Repetitive, and Stereotyped Patterns of Behavior
- Abnormalities in Response to the Physical Environment
- Abnormalities of Affect
- Intellectual Functioning
- Disruptive Behaviors
As one can see, it can be very frustrating, challenging, and overwhelming to raise and care for a child with autism Parents need all the help and assistance possible.
In chapter three, the author talks about the importance of diagnosis and assessment.
She states four reasons why diagnostic criteria and a classification system for autism are critical:
1. For scientist to be able to communicate clearly the nature of study populations. The more precise, comprehensive, and detailed a classification system is, the more valuable it is as a means of communication for researchers.
2. Diagnostic precision is important to clinicians for the development, implementation, and evaluation of treatment.
3. Educators and other community service providers depend upon diagnosis and classification systems for appropriate placement for children with autism.
4. Diagnosis and classification are always important to other community entities such as governmental agencies, the legal system, and insurance companies.
Diagnosis and assessment usually provide the individual with a label, ,and as stated by the author, diagnosis can be a two-edged sword in that it can just as easily be used to deny as well as qualify individuals for service
In comparison, Exkron and Schreibman provide two excellent books full of practical information, examples and quotations.
Schreibman's book is more scientifically reliable with a wealth of research knowledge. Exkron's book was less scientific and more "parent friendly" and compassionate. The contrast would be the format of the books and the way the content material was presented. They are both vital resources for parents and professionals who are involved with children who have autism spectrum disorders.
Schreibman, L. (2005). The Science and Fiction of Autism. MA: Howard University Press
Exkron, K. (2005). The Autism Sourcebook: Everything You need to Know About Diagnosis, Treatment, Coping, and Healing. NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.