What is ASD?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifetime neurodevelopmental disorder that is marked by persistent deficits in social communication and interaction, along with restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviours or activities. Autism exists on a spectrum, thus every individual with ASD is unique in their experience of autism and the support needed.
What are the symptoms of ASD?
Symptoms of ASD are present from early childhood, at ages when children begin to attend daycare or early school experiences but might become recognized in later childhood or adolescence if symptoms are more subtle. Individuals with ASD may or may not demonstrate some of the following symptoms listed below.
Challenges in social interaction and communication:
- Difficulty in having normal back-and-forth conversations (for instance, failure to respond to one’s name when called or appearing not to listen when spoken to)
- Challenges in making friendships or lack of interest in peers or behaving as if other people do not exist
- Trouble with displaying appropriate facial expressions
- Avoidance, reduction, or atypical use of eye contact or gestures
- Requires more support in relating to peers in a reciprocal and positive manner
- Needing more assistance in adjusting interpersonal skills to different social contexts
A history of restricted, repetitive patterns and body movements
- Stereotyped motor movements, such as spinning, hand flicking, or lining up toys
- Repetition of signs, words, or phrases as a form of communication or to regulate their own behaviour
- Dependent on having a routine and insistence on sameness (if not adhered to then it may cause extreme distress at small changes and difficulty with transitions)
- Hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory stimuli
- Highly restricted, fixated interests that are unusual in intensity or focus
Sometimes, other associated symptoms can present, such as:
- Difficulties with sleep
- Meltdowns, self-injury, defensiveness, and aggression, which are often provoked by pain and/or anxiety
- Enhanced skills in creative and imaginative expression
- Ability to identify visual and spatial relationships between objects
- Ability to understand and analyze visual information
- Strengths in memory
Why should I get an ASD assessment?
Symptoms of ASD are often marked in early childhood and early school years, with variability in improvement or worsening of symptoms into later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Some individuals with ASD can be severely impacted in their ability to perform independent tasks of daily living, while others can have greater functioning, wherein they attend post-secondary education, have careers, and create a family. Early screening of a child may result in an earlier diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Evidence-based therapy can also help improve symptoms and experiences of ASD. In addition, a diagnosis of autism can help provide access to government supports and funding.
What can I expect during an ASD assessment at OCCT?
A typical ASD assessment for children ranges in 9 to 13 hours in length, which involves approximately 5.5 hours of clinical interviewing and testing in-person with a psychologist, with additional time committed to scoring, report writing, and feedback. There are several components to an ASD assessment, which include:
- Clinical interview: Information is gathered about one’s general background, developmental history, physical health, education, and family
- Assessment measures: Cognitive and behavioural tasks are completed to assess strengths and areas of support
- Questionnaires and self-reports to assess ASD
- Academic assessment, if learning concerns are expressed
- Supplementary information from a parent, teacher, or another family member
- Reports cards are reviewed for additional feedback, if possible
How can the team at Oakville Centre for Cognitive Therapy help?
At the Oakville Centre for Cognitive Therapy, we have trained psychologists with experience in providing ASD assessments to children and young adults. To arrange an appointment for an ASD assessment, please call us at 905-338-1397 or email us via the Contact Us page of our website.