You may be a parent who has heard a teacher or other professional mention the word autism in regards to your child, but your child has never been evaluated and you're not even sure what that word means. Perhaps you've stumbled across this blog in your research efforts to find out more. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be a puzzling diagnosis because all children on the spectrum are so different from one another and present with varying symptoms. On the Autism Speaks website there is an amazing video glossary link: http://www.autismspeaks.org/video/glossary.php that helps break down the early signs and symptoms by showing real life children with and without autism. All you have to do is click on the link and provide an email address and password and you have free access to the site.
The ASD video glossary provides video clips in the three areas that comprise an autism diagnosis, which are Social Interactions, Communication, and Repetitive Behaviors & Restricted Interests. In addition, the glossary also includes clips of Regulatory and Sensory System Responses, which are often part of autism spectrum disorder.
The first segment of videos on Social Interactions shows clips of children with autism as early as 12 months of age compared with typically developing children that same age who are shifting eye gaze from a toy to a clinician easily. The videos show many different social behaviors at various ages that are divided into the following categories:
- Non-verbal Behaviors
- Shared Attention
- Social Reciprocity
The next category of clips is on Communication. Again it juxtaposes videos of typically developing children to those who have what they call as "red flags" for an autism spectrum diagnosis, such as not responding to his/her name. There are separate videos on the following categories:
Make Believe Play
The third area of an autism diagnosis is Repetitive Behaviors and Restricted Interests.
Within this area the ASD Video Glossary shows segments depicting:
- Restricted Patterns of Interests
- Insistence on Sameness
- Repetitive Mannerisms
- Preoccupation with parts of objects
All of the above categories and symptoms are detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual or DSM IV. Although not as clearly laid out in the DSM IV, sensory differences and emotional responses can often be included as part of a diagnosis and lumped in the third category mentioned.
I like how Autism Speaks shows video clips of Regulatory and Sensory Systems because emotion regulation and sensory responses are often very common issues for individual's on the spectrum. The video glossary shows examples of:
Over reactive responses
Under reactive responses
Unusual Sensory Interests
When you have time, please check out the ASD Video Glossary; the site shows over 100 videos of children of different ages to help parents and professionals recognize signs and symptoms early! Not only does it compare children with signs of autism to typically developing children, but it also shows the same child with autism and how the symptoms look at various ages. It may be that as a parent you, yourself are familiar with the signs, but your child's teacher or perhaps a family friend does not view these symptoms as any more than typical child development-- encourage them to go to this site as well so that they are more aware and educated about autism spectrum disorder. It truly is a great resource!
Let us know if you've come across other resources you've found helpful!