1 in 59, this stat flies around social media, parenting circles and professional mouths. 1 in 59 people meet the diagnosis criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. But what does this mean? What is Autism and what does it mean for those 1 in 59? Autism is a social interaction and communication disorder.
Despite popular belief it is not an intellectual disability, although over half of those diagnosed as ASD do have an accompanying intellectual disability. Despite popular belief, not everyone on the spectrum has a prodigy like ability. As those in the ASD world like to say, “if you know one person with Autism, you know one person with Autism.” The diagnosis is so broad that it can be hard for some to grasp what exactly Autism is.
The reason why we call it Autism Spectrum Disorder is because the diagnosis symptoms range so much that everyone experiences Autism a little, and sometimes a lot, different. Some people are verbal and some aren’t. Some people have sensory issues and some don’t. Some children get diagnosed and into therapy at 2 or 3 years old and some wait for the correct diagnosis until they are much older. But before we get more into this, it is important for those of you who do not know, the different levels of Autism.
There are three levels of the Autism Spectrum:
- Level 3: People who are Level 3 on the spectrum will require a lot of assistance throughout their life.
- Level 2: People who are Level 2 on the spectrum require a moderate amount of assistance to complete daily tasks.
- Level 1: People who are Level 1 on the spectrum will require only a little assistance to complete daily tasks.
With the help of ABA therapy, a person can move to different levels/ may require less assistance as they learn how to communicate and navigate though this world. The earlier the interventions start, the more likely this is. A person who is Level 1 ASD with no speech delay is much more likely to go “under the radar” and misdiagnosed. This is a frustrating and long fight for many families trying to get a correct diagnosis. Some pediatricians will refuse to refer the family to a specialist because the child, “doesn’t seem autistic enough”. Yes, an actual pediatrician said this. I should know, it was to one of my family members.
This lack of education and misdiagnosis can lead to a person not getting diagnosed until they are much older. As some of you may know, most services that are crucial to helping people diagnosed with ASD disappear by the time they are 18 years old.
This is not because they stop needing these services but because most people prefer to work with rosy cheeked little tots over adults who went their whole lives without proper help. Now, I am not saying one population is more important than the other. We need more services for children on the autism spectrum. There waiting lists for these services are unacceptable. The point I am trying to make is, those kids grow up and often still need those services but then are dropped because they reached the cut off.
Now remember, autism is a social disorder. So just imagine the struggles socially, undiagnosed people have to deal with on a day to day basis Then finally someone listens and they get the diagnosis but are then told they missed the cut off for most services. It is heart breaking.
Let me make one thing very clear. Out world is beautiful because of unique people who question status quo, I would never demand someone on the spectrum to pretend to be someone they are not. However, it is important to learn how to navigate social interactions and recognize others perspectives and to appropriately express our emotions. It is kind of like learning the customs of a foreign land you are planning to visit. You may not fully grasp why some customs are the way they are but you learn them so you can navigate easier.
Now you are probably wondering, “what does NMHS have to offer?” I specialize working with people diagnosed with Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder with a secondary diagnosis (ex: anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc) and their families. You may also know Level 1 ASD diagnosis by the name of “Asperger’s” or “High Functioning Autism” depending on when you were diagnosed. I work with older kids, teens and adults who fall under this category. I work with people who are in need of help for building social skills and interpersonal skills. Although I do have experience in ABA, I do not provide ABA therapy. I do, however, provide an understanding space to help increase social skills, coping skills and to decrease anxiety, depression and other diagnosis symptoms.
If you would like to learn more then contact me below. I offer a free 15 minuet consultation over the phone to help determine the best course of treatment for you.
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