Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a severe disruption of the normal developmental processes that usually occurs in the first three years of life.
The main areas of impairment are social communication and fixated interests and repetitive behaviour.
It leads to impaired language, play, cognitive, social and adaptive functioning, causing children to fall farther and farther behind their peers as they grow older.
The cause of ASD is not known, but evidence suggests biological or neurological abnormalities in particular areas of the brain.
Children with ASD do not learn in the same way that children typically learn. They seem to not understand simple verbal and nonverbal communication. They may respond differently to sensory input such as sounds or textures and withdraw in varying degrees from people and the world around them. They show little interest in other children and tend not to learn by observing and imitating others. They may become preoccupied with certain activities and objects that interfere with the development of play.
Although children with ASD meet common diagnostic criteria, there are enormous individual differences. Depending on the child, problems in each area range from mild to severe. For example, some children may be non-verbal whereas others can talk but have very limited understanding of language, others seem to understand and use complex language but may speak in a monotone voice or have difficulty understanding jokes and sarcasm.
Also, there are differences socially: some children may reject all social contact, others may only be social around adults and have no interest in other children, or they may be interested in their peers but do not initiate or sustain interactions.
Similarly, there are differences in behaviours. Some children may have excessive behavioural escalations or anxieties. Some children may exhibit repetitive body movements while others line up objects, tap surfaces repetitively, or rewind a DVD to endlessly watch a particular scene. Other children may not demonstrate any noticeable motor stereotypic behaviours but make up complex and obsessive rules such as driving to school the same route, or only drinking from a particular cup.
Despite the varying degrees of impairment and complexity of ASD, what is known about children with this diagnosis is that they have amazing potential to learn, with the right type of intervention.
The Australian Government's "Helping Children with Autism" package, provided through the Department of Social Services provides some financial support to children with ASD and their families.
Children with ASD aged 0 - 6 years are eligible to receive government funding of up to $12,000 for multi-disciplinary services.
Up to $6000 per financial year across 2 years (total = $12,000) can be used to access recognised and approved early intervention service providers, including some ABA service providers.
For more information on the "Helping Children with Autism" funding, visit www.dss.gov.au
Some families accessing ABA through practitioners who are registered psychologists may be eligible for Medicare rebates.
Speak to your GP or Paediatrician regarding medicare rebates for Psychologists. Some private health insurance policies also cover psychological services.
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This web site is intended to provide basic information on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Applied Behaviour Analysis. The information contained in this site is not intended as, nor does it, constitute medical or other advice. Readers are warned not to take any action with regard to medical treatment or otherwise based on the information in this site without first consulting a physician. Autism Behavioural Intervention Queensland (ABIQ) Inc. does not necessarily endorse any of the information contained in this web site. The information contained in this web site is intended to be for your general education and information only and not for use in pursuing any treatment or course of action. Ultimately, the course of action in treating a given patient must be individualised after a discussion with the patient's physician(s) and family.