Definitions and Resources

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Definitions

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – This is a condition that is related to brain development and begins in early childhood. It impacts social perception, interaction and communication. There is often limited and repetitive patterns of behavior, focused interests, and behavior problems in children. As a spectrum, there is a wide range of functioning, from individuals that are significantly impaired, to those that have symptoms that are so mild, that they are not obviously detectable. It is not unusual for people that have mild symptoms to find out their diagnosis in their adulthood, if ever.  More information about ASD

Asperger Syndrome – This condition is no longer a formal diagnosis, but it is still often used today. It falls within the broader category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It shares symptoms with autism, such as difficulties with social perception, interaction and communication. There is often limited and repetitive patterns of behavior, focused interests, and behavior problems in children. However, these children are typically advanced verbally, and often relate better to adults then their peers. They can also be highly intelligent, particularly in their areas of interest. More information about Asperger’s

Down Syndrome – This is a congenital disorder caused by a chromosome defect involving chromosome 21. Common traits include intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities including small stature, low muscle tone, an upward slat to the eyes and a broad facial profile. Each person with Down syndrome is unique and may have some or all of these characteristics to different degrees. Behavior challenges are not uncommon, and they can also be quite sociable. More Information about Down syndrome… 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – This is considered a disorder consisting of an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. Children with ADHD often have low self-esteem. Due to their impulsivity and distractability, they tend to be frequently criticized and get “in trouble” for not following directions, getting into fights, talking back, etc. When very young, these children are often hyperactive and impulsive. During elementary school, difficulty focusing their attention can be one of the main challenges. As teenagers, there is a tendency to be more restless and fidgety versus hyperactive, but they can still struggle with attention, impulsivity, and relationships. In adulthood, symptoms my lessen as they learn coping skills, but inattention, restless and impulsivity can continue to be a challenge. More Information about ADHD

Neurodiversity – This term refers to the concept that neurological differences are just like any other human variation, and are not necessarily abnormal or deficient. This means that our brains are “wired” differently and those differences impact thinking, learning, social awareness and interaction, mood, attention and other functions. There are those that are considered “neurotypical” (see below), and those considered neurodiverse, such as people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia and Tourette syndrome. More information about the meaning of neurodiversity

Neurotypical – Neurotypical is a more recent term that refers to individuals that don’t have the symptoms of autism or other developmental differences. They have the characteristics of what society considers “normal”. However, there is no universal definition of what “normal” is, and so the terminology is somewhat controversial. More information about the meaning of neurotypical…

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – This is a condition that affects adults and children where the brain has trouble receiving, interpreting and responding to input from the senses. One or multiple senses can be affected, and people can be under-reactive or over-sensitive. For example, sensory information such as sounds can be painful or overwhelming. Light touch and certain fabrics can cause great discomfort. It is not uncommon for sensory processing disorder to cause anxiety, as well as behavior problems in children. Some children can be overly active, uncoordinated, bump into things, climb dangerously, put inedible items in their mouths, and tantrum during daily care. This disorder is often seen in developmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder. Using a checklist can be a helpful first step in identifying difficulties with sensory processing. Occupational therapists trained in SPD are able to diagnose and treat this disorder.  More information about SPD…

Anxiety in Autism – Anxiety is an experience of excessive worry, uneasiness, dread and even panic. Although anxiety is not considered a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), many people with ASD have significant levels of anxiety or at least one anxiety disorder, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (unwanted and repetitive thoughts and or/behaviors, such as insistence on a specific pattern of organization), specific phobia, social anxiety, separation anxiety, and anxiety related to sensory processing disorder. More information about anxiety and autism spectrum disorder

Depression in Autism – Depression is a low mood that can include sleeping and eating disturbance, lack of facial expression, isolation, low energy and motivation, and suicidal thoughts. People on the autism spectrum are four times more likely to experience depression during their lives. This can be hard to diagnose in autism as there are overlapping symptoms between the two. A multi-prong approach is needed, such as looking at sensory processing challenges (see definition above), understanding how their autism manifests, their strengths and weaknesses, learning coping strategies, as well as medical and psychiatric evaluation/intervention. These can make a significant difference in alleviating the symptoms of depression. More information about depression in autism spectrum disorder… 

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Resources

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.” autismspeaks.org

The Autism Community in Action, TACA, provides education, support and hope to families living with autism.” tacanow.org

Asperger Experts is a global community for advice, emotional support, best practices and finding new friends, created by people with Asperger’s.” aspergerexperts.com

The Autism Society of America has been improving the lives of all affected by autism for over 50 years and envisions a world where individuals and families living with autism are able to maximize their quality of life, are treated with the highest level of dignity, and live in a society in which their talents and skills are appreciated and valued. We provide advocacy, education, information and referral, support, and community at national, state and local levels through our strong nationwide network of affiliates.” autism-society.org

“The mission of Autism Support Network is conveyed in our tagline: connect, guide and unite. Our goal is to short-cut the uphill battle individuals and families undertake when faced with autism – whether that means the initial diagnosis, the day-to-day living and coping needed, relationship and therapeutic strategies and the latest information. Our support community, which is free for anyone to join, is intended to further reduce the need to “reinvent the wheel” and collectively pool global knowledge and support from all those touched by ASD wherever they might live. We all experience frustration and can feel isolation in our journeys with ASD. The Autism Support Network is designed as a place by those living with ASD, for those with ASD and those seeking social connection, peer guidance and a feeling of community with those that understand.” autismsupportnetwork.com

Autism Parenting Magazine is the leading magazine for parents of autistic children as well as professionals seeking to work with children on the spectrum. Established in 2012, our focus remains on objectively publishing autism-related topics, events, developments, treatments and news stories. We also cover a variety of inspiring real-life stories to help parents make informed decisions and keep them updated on the latest therapeutic and treatment options. Our magazine features articles from hundreds of contributors including respected professionals, autism experts, parents of children on the spectrum and adults with autism. Together, we form a strong community.” autismparentingmagazine.com

The National Down Syndrome Society is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome… envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations and become valued members of welcoming communities.” ndss.org

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) believes in improving the lives of people affected by ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), and states it is the leading non-profit organization for children and adults with ADHD. chadd.org