|Essay type:||Process essays|
|Categories:||Medicine Child development Autism|
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disease characterized by deficits in communication and social interaction compounded by tendencies to adopt repetitive patterns of behavior and habit (Ramaswami & Geschwind, 2018). The areas affected mostly by ASD is the development of the child and its further integration into a functioning society. Nonetheless, it is imperative to indicate that ASD symptoms appear within the first two years of development. Most importantly, the association of the ailment to the term ‘spectrum’ is based on the ailment’s wide range of symptoms and ranging levels of severity. Additionally, ASD lacks a lasting medical intervention or correctional procedure. Hence, it is a lifelong ailment that is manageable through medication and therapy. Nonetheless, despite the debilitating nature of extreme versions of the disease, psychiatric help sufferers can lead a healthy, productive, and long life. Consequentially, the scope of this paper is to evaluate the nature of the disease, diagnosis, coping mechanisms, parenting tips, and the education of children who have ASD.
According to the Division of Public Health (2020), there are three primary types of Autism: Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Autistic Disorder refers to the classic form of the ailment characterized by abnormal behaviors and abilities, speech impairment, poor social skills, and a sense of intellectual disability. Alternatively, the Asperger Syndrome refers to the high-performance version of Autism punctuated with high comprehension abilities despite lacking communication and social skills. Finally, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), also called atypical Autism, refers to the type of Autism that some share intercrossing characteristics to both Autistic Disorder and Asperger Syndrome; nonetheless, these patients have fewer symptoms compared to other two forms of ASD. Nevertheless, despite the uniqueness of each of these individual conditions, speech and social interaction assistance is an essential part of the treatment.
Diagnosis and Testing for ASD.
Hayes et al. (2018) note that ASD diagnosis poses a considerable challenge to most healthcare professionals. They indicate that the lack of clinical tests to determine the existence and severity of the diseases makes its diagnosis difficult. Nonetheless, it is imperative to indicate that similar to the other neurological and psychological ailments, the lack of biomarkers poise psychiatry as the best way to detect and test for the ailment. Additionally, the heterogeneous nature of the ailment, coupled with its varied states of severity, is a significant impediment to its diagnosis. Therefore, the general standard for diagnosis is the observation of the patient's behavior and cross-checking against a list of potential Autism Spectrum Diseases.
The gold standards of ASD diagnosis entail applying a multi-agency team (Falkmer et al., 2018). The deployment of a multi-disciplinary healthcare team is essential in attaining a negotiated consensus as members of the team pool their knowledge and experience in finding a befitting diagnosis. Additionally, it is essential to indicate that the testing of ASD is hugely dependent on the deployment of diagnostic tools such as ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule), CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale), and ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised). Nonetheless, despite the existence of these tools, their accuracy, utility, and reliability is an issue of concern as chances of differential diagnosis continue to be experienced.
The accepted Clinical Practice Guidelines are on ASD diagnosis highlight the relevance of social factors, cultural and socio-economic dynamics, and genetic biomarkers in ASD diagnosis. The reliance on social skills and competency to diagnose ASD remains one of the most reliable means of testing for the ailment. Additionally, the use of tests like ADOS and CARS is hugely affected by social factors such as the doctor-patient relationship (Freeman & Cronin, 2017). Additionally, socio-economic issues like race and household net income affect the diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of ASD; typically, in the most impoverished communities, children with ASD rarely get medical help or even diagnosis (National Autistic Society, 2019). Finally, genetic biomarkers such as damaged and abnormal proteins in the patient blood have been associated with specific symptoms of ASD (Anwar et al., 2018).
ASD Treatment and Coping.
ASD treatment should begin immediately after diagnosis. Early interventions are essential in helping the child or the patient acquire skills essential in social integration. Additionally, early interventions will enable the patient to overcome their difficulties through an established and cultured coping mechanism reinforced through the repetition of certain helpful behaviors or actions. Nonetheless, it is essential to indicate that the full range of symptoms and severity is a significant impediment to a single medication or intervention in the management of ASD. Nevertheless, mood medication and therapy remain two of the most effective means of managing and treating the disease.
According to LeClerc and Easley (2015), pharmacological therapy using FDA approved drugs and medication is essential in the conduction of daily activities by the patient. The scholars indicate that Risperidone, Aripiprazole, Clozapine, and Haloperidol are effective against irritability and aggression in ASD patients. Additionally, Oxytocin and Risperidone were also used in treating aberrant behavior with the dosage of Venlafaxine prescribed to tame hyperactivity in the patient. Furthermore, Mirtazapine and Melatonin were used in the treatment of insomnia in ASD patients. Nonetheless, it is imperative to indicate that the prescription of these medications was done under strict advisement of both physician and psychiatrist. Moreover, the extensive usage of these drugs also endangered the patient's overall health by increasing the risk of obesity and related health issues (SPECTRUM, 2017). However, medication was essential in the management of behaviors such as:
- Attention and concentration issues.
B. Behavioral and Psychological Therapy.
O'Rourke and Betin (2016) term behavioral therapy as the most successful form of ASD treatment. Typically, this form of intervention forms the first line of defense in managing the disease before the application and prescription of pharmacological elements. Although these methods are labor and cost-intensive, they pose minimal to negligible side effects on the patients. Resultantly, this form of intervention can be used for an extended period. However, behavioral and psychological therapy encompasses:
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- Social Skills Groups.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
- Verbal Behavior Therapy (VBT)
- Development and Individual Difference Relationship (DIR) Therapy.
Strategies and Tips for Parents
The management of ASD is a labor-intensive affair that requires patience. Therefore, parents are expected to improve their skillset and competency in providing a complimentary home-based care program that will enable them to cope and adapt in a social setting. Firstly, after diagnosis, parents should find a better treatment plan for their child and avoid feeling depressed or helpless about their child's condition. Parents should be made aware that a child can lead a healthy lifestyle despite having ASD. Secondly, parents should be aware of the substantial psychological help available for both the child and the parents. Thirdly, having a complementary behavior-based therapy for the child is an essential means of reinforcing the child's behavior. Fourthly, children with ASD should be treated with care and love, regardless of their challenges and struggles. Finally, parents should ensure that they provide a safe and comfortable environment for their children.
Strategies and Tips for Teachers in helping to educate the student with the disability.
According to Manolis (2016), teachers should help children with ASD develop academically and socially. The scholar identified the following six tips essential in the education of ASD students:
Avoid overloading the student’s sensory perception: Teachers should not use pronounced lights, noise, or scents during lessons. These extreme stimuli cause an overload in the brain of the ASD child leading to strain and stress, exacerbating responses like aggression, irritability, and concentration deficiencies.
Application of visuals and drawings: Teachers and tutors should use visuals to deconstruct complex ideas. Additionally, the use of visuals is essential in creating memory among the ASD student.
Use of predictable lesson plans and schedules: ASD students incline repetitive patterns, hence the introduction of an anomaly in the schedule might offend them, leading to agitation and outbursts.
Use concrete language when communicating: ASD students face a huge challenge when trying to understand figurative speech and conversation.
Teach social skills: Teachers dealing with ASD students should invest more time in teaching social skills than the other subjects.
Protect ASD students from discrimination and abuse: Teachers should ensure that students with ASD are safe from judgment and abuse from the other healthy children.
ASD is a complex neurological disease that is effectively managed through behavioral therapy. Early detection and diagnosis of the disease is an essential step towards effective care, although it is necessary to state that it is a lifelong one. Nonetheless, proper coping regimen entails the cooperation between health practitioners, parents, teachers, and therapists. Alternatively, parents are encouraged to adopt a behavioral and psychological therapy option instead of using pharmacological options.
Anwar, A., Abruzzo, P. M., Pasha, S., Rajpoot, K., Bolotta, A., Ghezzo, A., Marini, M., Posar, A., Visconti, P., Thornalley, P. J., & Rabbani, N. (2018). Advanced glycation endproducts, tyrosine and arginine transporter dysfunction in autism - a source of biomarkers for clinical diagnosis. Molecular Autism, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13229-017-0183-3
Division of Public Health. (2020). Autism: Types of autism spectrum disorders. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/wcfh/Pages/autism/spectrum.aspx
Falkmer, T., Anderson, K., Falkmer, M., & Horlin, C. (2018). Diagnostic procedures in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic literature review. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 22(6), 329-340.
Freeman, B. J., & Cronin, P. (2017). Standardized assessment of social skills in autism spectrum disorder. Handbook of Social Skills and Autism Spectrum Disorder, 83-96. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-62995-7_6
Hayes, J., Ford, T., Rafeeque, H., & Russell, G. (2018). Clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in adults and children in the UK: a narrative review. BMC psychiatry, 18(1), 222.
LeClerc, S., & Easley, D. (2015). Pharmacological therapies for autism spectrum disorder: a review. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 40(6), 389.
Manolis, L. (2016, March 15). 6 tips for teaching students with autism. Teach For America. https://www.teachforamerica.org/stories/6-tips-for-teaching-students-with-autism
National Autistic Society. (2019). Diverse perspectives: the challenges for families affected by autism from black. London: Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities. Autism support - leading UK charity - National Autistic Society. https://www.autism.org.uk/about/bame-autism.aspx
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