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Autism, 1.04 (V) Why is Autism a Spectrum Disorder?

In this lesson you will learn why autism is considered a spectrum disorder. In addition, we will discuss how autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed. Because of the variability of symptom expression, autism is considered a spectrum disorder. Symptoms can range in severity, and the amount of support that an individual requires may also vary depending on the severity of symptoms. In the new DSM 5 diagnostic and statistical manual, autism is described in terms of levels of support required. Someone who has a level 1 diagnosis does require support. These individuals may be verbal, but have difficulty initiating and sustaining interactions with others. They may have decreased interests in interacting with others. And their restricted, repetitive behaviors may interfere with functioning in one or more contexts. Someone with a level 2 diagnosis may require substantial support. There may be marked deficits in social interactions even with supports in place. The restricted and repetitive behaviors are obvious to the casual observer and may interfere with functioning in many contexts and can cause distress when interrupted or redirected. Someone with a level 3 diagnosis may require very substantial support. They may have severe deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, very limited initiation and response to social overtures from others. And the restricted, repetitive behaviors interfere with functioning across all contexts. So how are autism spectrum disorders diagnosed? Diagnosis is generally made by a trained licensed medical or mental health professional using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual currently in its fifth edition. A comprehensive diagnostic evaluation should include behavioral observations, interviews with caregivers and providers, a medical and behavioral history. And other medical tests in order to rule out certain genetic conditions, hearing loss, or other illnesses or conditions that may cause similar behavioral characteristics. Why is it important to seek out a medical diagnosis if autism is suspected? A medical diagnosis may help in determining the medical course of treatment or the services that the individual is eligible to receive. For example, in the State of California, a medical diagnosis is required in order for an individual to qualify for the developmental disabilities regional center system. Private health care providers, insurance, and Medicaid can also provide and pay for treatments such as behavioral health treatment with a medical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. In this video, Elizabeth Morgan, a parent of a child on the autism spectrum shares her family's experience with the diagnostic process. » So our son was actually two years and four months when we got the diagnosis of autism. I think, like all parents, it was something that we definitely were not prepared for. We actually had been in early intervention for quite a bit before we got the diagnosis. So we had known that there were some speech delays, so we had been in early intervention since 18 months. But when we really weren't seeing much progress, that's when it was recommended by our regional center representative to have further evaluation. And that evaluation included an autism evaluation, and so, went in that day one way and came out another. Once we got the diagnosis of autism, the services that my son received absolutely changed. We were receiving speech one day a week because his had a speech delay, a diagnosis early on. But after we got the diagnosis, we were able to, of course increase in our services, and we were also adding in quite a few extras. So, in addition to additional speech we also received occupational therapy, and then we also started behavioral therapy.



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In this lesson you will learn why autism is considered a spectrum disorder. In addition, we will discuss how autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed. Because of the variability of symptom expression, autism is considered a spectrum disorder. Symptoms can range in severity, and the amount of support that an individual requires may also vary depending on the severity of symptoms. In the new DSM 5 diagnostic and statistical manual, autism is described in terms of levels of support required. Someone who has a level 1 diagnosis does require support. These individuals may be verbal, but have difficulty initiating and sustaining interactions with others. They may have decreased interests in interacting with others. And their restricted, repetitive behaviors may interfere with functioning in one or more contexts. Someone with a level 2 diagnosis may require substantial support. There may be marked deficits in social interactions even with supports in place. The restricted and repetitive behaviors are obvious to the casual observer and may interfere with functioning in many contexts and can cause distress when interrupted or redirected. Someone with a level 3 diagnosis may require very substantial support. They may have severe deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, very limited initiation and response to social overtures from others. And the restricted, repetitive behaviors interfere with functioning across all contexts. So how are autism spectrum disorders diagnosed? Diagnosis is generally made by a trained licensed medical or mental health professional using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual currently in its fifth edition. A comprehensive diagnostic evaluation should include behavioral observations, interviews with caregivers and providers, a medical and behavioral history. And other medical tests in order to rule out certain genetic conditions, hearing loss, or other illnesses or conditions that may cause similar behavioral characteristics. Why is it important to seek out a medical diagnosis if autism is suspected? A medical diagnosis may help in determining the medical course of treatment or the services that the individual is eligible to receive. For example, in the State of California, a medical diagnosis is required in order for an individual to qualify for the developmental disabilities regional center system. Private health care providers, insurance, and Medicaid can also provide and pay for treatments such as behavioral health treatment with a medical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. In this video, Elizabeth Morgan, a parent of a child on the autism spectrum shares her family's experience with the diagnostic process. » So our son was actually two years and four months when we got the diagnosis of autism. I think, like all parents, it was something that we definitely were not prepared for. We actually had been in early intervention for quite a bit before we got the diagnosis. So we had known that there were some speech delays, so we had been in early intervention since 18 months. But when we really weren't seeing much progress, that's when it was recommended by our regional center representative to have further evaluation. And that evaluation included an autism evaluation, and so, went in that day one way and came out another. Once we got the diagnosis of autism, the services that my son received absolutely changed. We were receiving speech one day a week because his had a speech delay, a diagnosis early on. But after we got the diagnosis, we were able to, of course increase in our services, and we were also adding in quite a few extras. So, in addition to additional speech we also received occupational therapy, and then we also started behavioral therapy.


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