April is Autism Awareness Month! Did you know that Autism affects 1 in 44 children in the United States?

From the Desk of:
Beth Ann Wilmore MSN, RN | Director of Nursing

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. There are many subtypes and each person with Autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges.

What is Involved in Testing for Autism?

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) is a standardized assessment of communication, social interaction, play and repetitive behaviors in children. It is not a lab test but a test that relies on observing behaviors and listening to parent’s concerns.

At Mercy, we offer ADOS testing for all ages! It is a 3-appointment process that involves interviews, testing/observations, and then recommendations for care.

Is Early Intervention Important?

Yes! Research indicates that high-quality, early intervention can improve learning, communication and social skills. Professional evaluation is important because not all children show signs and some children who don’t have Autism do show a few signs!

How to help?

Be supportive and ask how to assist! There is a protective shield that people with Autism use when things become overbearing, which can cause withdrawal. Here are three things many people with Autism need:

1. Safety
2. Acceptance
3. Sense of competence

Be direct. Remember, with children focus on the behavior you want to see not the behavior you don’t want to see. That way, people with ASD don’t have to translate your communication. For example: When a child is running in an unsafe environment, say, “Please walk.” Don’t say: “Stop running.” The child may then start skipping, which is not running but still unsafe and not the desired result. Remember to communicate the behavior you want to see!