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WHAT IS AUTISM?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that lasts throughout the life of the diagnosed person. Some of the criteria that various instruments measure to establish the diagnosis of autism are:

  1. Challenges in social reciprocity

  2. Difficulty initiating and maintaining social interactions. For example, to start or        maintain a conversation with another person in a fluid way and that includes points of view of both, as well as comments and complements on the opinions of others.

  3. Challenges in understanding and using non-verbal language.

  4. Integration of verbal communication with gestures, eye contact and joint response/initiation of attention.

  5. Use of idiosyncratic language. This refers to the use of unusual or invented verbal expressions to refer to objects, people, social situations and emotional states. For example, someone with autism may express "I'm burning out" to refer to a feeling of extreme anger.

  6. Verbal, body, and object patterns that may be repetitive and stereotyped.

  7. Adherence to routines that can cause anxiety and inflexibility in the person.

  8. Topics and/or activities of excessive interest that limit the person's participation in various tasks of daily living.

  9. Hyper or Hypo reaction to auditory, gustatory, tactile, olfactory and/or visual sensory stimuli.

  10. Unusual search for sensory stimuli in the environment that are peculiar in origin, intensity, and/or resistance to stop exploration.

According to the Autism Speaks association, 1 in 115 children in Mexico lives with autism.

It is everyone's job to create inclusive spaces for people with autism. Through therapy, a diagnosed person can acquire skills that allow them to navigate social environments. On the other hand, we can all make adjustments that allow the person with autism to access educational, recreational, social, sports and work spaces.

There are no biological markers yet that can be used to diagnose autism. Therefore, a diagnosis cannot be obtained through any medical examination such as:

  • blood tests  

  • brain mapping  

  • xray

AUTISM DIAGNOSIS

Autism can be diagnosed from 12 months of age. Being a neurodevelopmental condition, its detection is carried out through tests that observe and evaluate the person's social, communicative and adaptive development. Some of the tests used and that are valid worldwide are:

  • Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R)

  • Childhood Autism Scale (CARS)

  • Autism Diagnosis and Observation Scale (ADOS-2)

Additionally, tests that measure the person's intellectual capacity and their level of adaptation to various contexts can be applied. Among the most used are:

  • VINELAND (Measures the level of adaptation and independence)

  • WISC (Measures different constructs that make up cognitive abilities)

  • DAS (Measures different constructs of cognitive abilities)

The assessments must be carried out by psychologists with the appropriate training to apply said tests and with extensive knowledge of autism spectrum disorders.

Upon completion of the assessment, the family should receive a written report that includes:

  • Confirmation of or ruling out the diagnosis of autism

  • Description of the results obtained in the applied tests

  • Therapeutic suggestions

  • Additional Recommendations

EARLY SIGNS OF AUTISM

The first signs of autism can be present from six months of age. It is very important that primary caregivers are constantly monitoring their children's development, in order to identify signs of a possible developmental gap. Some of the signs to watch out for are:

  • Negative reaction to some sensory stimuli (visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and/or taste)

  • Delay in the acquisition of expressive language

  • Repetitive use of objects without a social purpose

  • Repetitive body movements

  • Evocation of sounds that are peculiar in their repetition, duration, or intonation

  • Poorly modulated eye contact to initiate or maintain social interaction

  • Intense attachment to routines and rituals during the day

  • Limited social interactions with both children and adults

  • Manipulating only specific parts of an object rather than the entire object

  • Delayed or limited imaginative and/or symbolic play skills

  • Loss of communication skills and/or independence that had already been previously acquired.

There are no biological markers yet that can be used to diagnose autism. Therefore, a diagnosis cannot be obtained through any medical examination such as:

  • blood tests  

  • brain mapping  

  • xray

There are no biological markers yet that can be used to diagnose autism. Therefore, a diagnosis cannot be obtained through any medical examination such as:

  • blood tests  

  • brain mapping  

  • xray

EARLY INTERVENTION IN AUTISM

Over the years, various methods of therapeutic intervention have been introduced that help enhance the development of people with autism in different areas such as:

  • Social skills

  • Communication and language

  • Independence

  • Adaptive behaviors

  • Sensory integration

  • Cognitive abilities

 

Various scientific studies have reported that the development of people with autism is more advanced when intervention methodologies adopt a comprehensive approach that addresses the needs of all areas of development and not just one in particular. In addition, better results are obtained when the family of the person with autism is involved in the therapeutic process and takes an active role in teaching the person, since there are more opportunities for practice in daily life than in a therapeutic context.

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