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Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASDs Family Handout—Behavioral Challenges
Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may have a hard time relating to and communicating with other people. They may attempt to communicate through their behaviors. For example, children with ASDs may have a hard time telling their parents that they do not want to do an activity that is requested of them and throw a tantrum instead of using words. Many children with ASDs also are impulsive and may be over-responsive or under-responsive to sensory or environmental input. These qualities can lead to behavioral challenges, as might their repetitive behaviors or interest in sameness. They may become very upset when there is change in their routine. They may not understand why another child may not want to play exactly the way they want to. Each child's behavior is unique. Learning behavioral principles can help you increase the likelihood your child will respond how you would like him to and reduce problem behaviors.
ASDs Family Handout—Discussing the Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) With Your Child
Parents may wonder about when and whether to tell their child about his autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Following are some commonly asked questions about discussing diagnosis of an ASD with a child:
ASDs Family Handout—Early Intervention Services
Children learn by watching, imitating, and playing with others. Young children with symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) often lack some of these developmental skills, and they need to learn them. The goal of EI is to help young children gain developmental skills and to teach families some specific skills to meet their child's unique needs. It is important to get help for your child as soon as possible. The earlier a child gets into EI, the better the outcome can be.
ASDs Family Handout—Emergency Information Form For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)
Family handout from Autism: Caring for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Resource Toolkit for Clinicians, 2nd Edition, developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Children With Disabilities Autism Subcommittee (ASC).
ASDs Family Handout—Financial Assistance and Related Programs for Families
Many children with ASDs are able to get support from programs funded through their state or county. Some examples are financial help, education support, medical care, job skills training, and residential or living services. Some supports are available to all children because of federal laws, such as a free public education, including special education if the child is eligible. Other public benefits are based on need, such as financial or how serious the disability is. Most children with ASDs, especially those who also have intellectual disability, will qualify for these benefits.
ASDs Family Handout—Gastrointestinal Problems
Gastrointestinal problems include constipation, diarrhea, reflux, vomiting, belly pain, and feeding problems. Some families of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) report GI problems. These symptoms can add stress to the child and family.
ASDs Family Handout—Guardianship
All teens, including teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), become adults and their own legal guardians on their 18th birthday. By law, when a person turns 18, her parents are no longer allowed to make medical or legal decisions for her. The only way parents can continue making decisions for their child is to become their adult child's legal guardian. It is best to start the process in a timely manner well before the teen's 18th birthday. A legal guardian usually makes all decisions about the adult child's well-being. Some families may choose to divide decision-making duties between the guardian and a conservator. A conservator takes care of the individual's financial affairs only. When the adult with an ASD can make personal and health decisions but not complex financial ones (especially those relating to Social Security or other governmental funding for daily care), she may need only a conservator.
ASDs Family Handout—Health Care Transition: Moving From Adolescence to Adulthood
Moving into adulthood can be challenging for any young person with or without autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). While much attention is given to transitioning from high school to postsecondary education or to the workforce, parents should also be mindful of the transition to new doctors and medical service systems. Many doctors who care for children with ASDs do not also care for adults. Families must plan ahead for this transition.
ASDs Family Handout—Inclusion: Elementary School
Inclusion describes an approach toward education that allows children who require additional educational services to receive those supports in regular classrooms with typically developing peers. The goal of inclusion is for all children with disabilities to attend school in the least restrictive environment possible while receiving the support they need to be successful.
ASDs Family Handout—Inclusion: Middle and High School
Inclusion describes an approach toward education that allows children who require additional educational services to receive those supports in regular classrooms with typically developing peers. The goal of inclusion is for all children and youth with disabilities to attend school in the least restrictive environment possible (typical schools and classrooms) and receive the support they need to be successful. Inclusion in middle and high school is similar to inclusion in elementary school, but there may be some differences.
ASDs Family Handout—Intervention Approaches Used for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
As soon as the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is made, your child should be referred for intervention services. While speech and occupational therapy are important, the social and communication differences of a child with an ASD need a therapy team. That team should use special intervention strategies that do not necessarily depend on imitation or understanding social cues. A coordinated approach to intervention that is evidence-based is recommended. This means that there have been scientific studies that prove that the intervention helps children with ASDs. No matter what approach to therapy is used for your child with an ASD, it is very important that caregivers are involved and can use the approach at home and in the community as they interact with the child.
ASDs Family Handout—Introduction to Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Complementary medicine refers to practices that are used in addition to the educational, behavioral, and medical interventions recommended by your child's pediatrician and schools.
ASDs Family Handout—Lab Tests
All children have some lab tests at birth and as part of normal checkups. Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) often need more tests. These tests can help find the cause of the disability or problems related to an ASD that may not be obvious and guide the doctor in treating your child most effectively. New genetic tests now make it possible to find an underlying cause for ASDs in many more children than was previously possible. Genetic testing can also provide information about the likelihood of an ASD in future children or for children of other family members.
ASDs Family Handout—Medications and Your Child
Medications are not the primary treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Medications have not been shown to directly improve language or social skills. However, medications may help with behaviors that get in the way of progress in your child's intervention program. Such behaviors include
ASDs Family Handout—Nutrition and Eating Problems
Children with ASDs have the same general nutrition needs as all children and teens. Children with ASDs may be picky eaters, so their parents may be concerned that they are not getting the nutrients they need. For example, if a child doesn't drink milk (because the child refuses or because of a special diet), the child may not get enough calcium and vitamin D. If a child doesn't eat enough foods made from grains, she may not get enough fiber and B vitamins. Some children with ASDs have such a limited diet that they are at risk for nutritional disorders. They may also be at higher risk for low iron intake.
ASDs Family Handout—School-based Services
Schools can provide extra help to students who are struggling with the regular curriculum in several ways, even if a child does not have a diagnosed disability. The teacher in a regular classroom can informally try different teaching approaches than the one used for the rest of the class. The classroom teacher can consult with other teachers and provide individual attention or other teaching strategies without having to have a child get additional testing. This first level of extra help is called response to intervention (RTI). If a child needs more help than can be provided by the classroom team, a committee on special education (CSE) might advise using school-supported resources according to a plan. This type of agreed-on intervention is called a Section 504 plan after the federal law that describes it. If a child needs to have formal testing to establish learning and language diagnoses and needs modification to curriculum, the CSE may recommend a formal Individualized Education Program (IEP). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Grants to States Program Part B gives local schools funding for students aged 3 to 21 years with disabilities who qualify for IEPs.
ASDs Family Handout—Seizures and Epilepsy
Seizures are caused by sudden excessive electrical activity in the brain. A child who has a seizure may lose consciousness (black out) for a short time; shake strongly all over his body; have unusual, repeated body movements; or stare blankly into space.
ASDs Family Handout—Sibling Issues
Most brothers and sisters of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) cope well. However, they still have challenges in learning how to deal with a sibling with an ASD. This handout can help you teach your children how to meet these challenges.
ASDs Family Handout—Sleep Problems
Sleep problems are common in children with and without autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). One-third to half of children with ASDs have sleep problems. This can lead to daytime problems with paying attention, being irritable, and displaying more repetitive behaviors. The amount of nighttime sleep needed by preschoolers in general is typically 10 to 13 hours. It decreases with age to 8 to 11 hours by 13 years. Sleep problems can end up affecting parents and caregivers as well as the child with an ASD because they often lose sleep themselves caring for the child who is awake.
ASDs Family Handout—Talking About Sexuality for Parents of Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders
All children and youth, including those with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), have questions about physical changes in their bodies and emotions and feelings they experience during puberty and as they grow up. It is important to help children and youth understand these changes and to talk with them early and often about sexuality.
ASDs Family Handout—Teaching Social Skills
Difficulty with social interaction is one of the key features or core deficits in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Some researchers have suggested that teaching social skills is one of the most important things we can do for children with ASDs.
ASDs Family Handout—The Medical Home for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Parents, pediatricians, and other health care professionals are encouraged to work together so that all of the medical and nonmedical needs of children and youth are met. This partnership is at the core of what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls the medical home. Medical home is an approach primary care practices can use to provide comprehensive and compassionate care. This approach helps coordinate the medical care and other services your child needs into an integrated overall plan for your child's health. Because of the effectiveness of this approach and the benefits that patients receive under this care model, the AAP and other medical organizations have endorsed the medical home as an important part of caring for individuals with lifelong conditions. It is important for families and clinicians to feel like they have a constructive partnership for the care of the child.
ASDs Family Handout—Toilet Training
Children with ASDs often have delayed development or may be obsessed with their own routines or anxious about learning a new skill. They may not understand imitation or the words parents use in toilet training.
ASDs Family Handout—Vaccines
Some parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may worry about a possible link between vaccines and ASDs. In fact, one recent survey said that 54% of parents of children with ASDs thought ASDs were caused by immunizations. The consensus of health professionals based on scientific research is that there is no evidence that vaccines cause ASDs. Despite these scientific data, parents continue to worry that vaccines may cause children at risk for ASDs to develop symptoms at the time many childhood vaccinations are given. Some common questions that parents have include
ASDs Family Handout—Visiting the Doctor
Going to the doctor can be stressful for any child. For a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there may be additional challenges because of sensory, communication, and other symptoms related to the ASD. Here are some tips to help make visiting the doctor easier.
ASDs Family Handout—Wandering Off (Elopement)
This is the tendency for an individual to try to leave the safety of a responsible person's care or a safe area, which can result in potential harm or injury. This might include running off from adults at school or in the community, leaving the classroom without permission, or leaving the house when the family is not looking. This behavior is considered common and short-lived in toddlers, but it may persist in children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Children with ASDs have challenges with social and communication skills and safety awareness. This makes wandering a potentially dangerous behavior.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities caused by a problem with the brain. Children with ASDs have trouble in 3 core areas of their development.
Is Your Toddler Communicating With You?
Your baby is able to communicate with you long before he or she speaks a single word! A baby's cry, smile, and responses to you help you to understand his or her needs. In this publication the American Academy of Pediatrics shares information about how children communicate and what to do when there are concerns about delays in development.
Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): An Introduction
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurologically based disability that affects a child’s social skills, communication, and behavior.