It’s World Autism Awareness Week from 27 March to 2 April. With around 1 in 100-110 Australians living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the event encourages all people to better understand the condition and ensure people with ASD feel included and treated as equals in society.

Kerrin Braithwaite is a Psychologist and Team Leader in our Therapy team, and frequently works with children with ASD. We had a chat with her to find out the facts about ASD.

Kerrin Braithwaite White Background 20170329

Kerrin Braithwaite, Psychologist and Team Leader in our Therapy team.

What is Autism?

Kerrin: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder. For diagnosis, a person must have deficits in social communication and social interaction alongside restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviours, interests or activities.

How is Autism diagnosed?

Diagnosis requires a thorough assessment of a person’s history and current presentation. This includes reports from people who know the child well in different environments such as parents and teachers, as well as clinical observation by specialists in development and ASD. A thorough multidisciplinary assessment , usually by a pediatrician, psychologist and speech pathologist, is strongly recommended.

 Is Autism the same for everyone?

There are many different ways that a person with ASD may present. In fact every individual with ASD is exactly that – an individual!  ASD can influence the way that an individual interacts with others and how they experience the world around them.  People with ASD experience challenges in communicating and interacting with others.  Some use words to communicate while others may develop speech later in life, or not at all.  Often a person has a strong interest in one topic or subject, or may have unusual reactions to what they see, hear, smell, touch or taste.   Often people with ASD show a preference for doing things in a certain way and dislike change.

How will I know if someone has autism?

Often it’s not obvious that a person has ASD. There are no physical signs or blood tests, that tell us for sure that a person has ASD. Diagnosis requires specialist assessment by a multidisciplinary team looking at health, communication and behaviour.  Sometimes people are happy to discuss their diagnosis with family, friends and people they meet, whilst others prefer to keep their diagnosis private.

Scope is a registered provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). If you would like to find out more about how we can support you, visit the services page of our website.

Read about how we can better support people with Autism here.