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Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication. Based on the prevailing statistics from the National Institutes of Health, 2004 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005 – autism affects 1 out of 88 children, and according to U. S. Dept. of Education, is the fastest- growing developmental disability.
Children with autism typically show difficulties in verbal/non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure/play activities making it extremely hard for a child with autism to fit into a typical classroom setting. This is why early intervention is so crucial. It could mean the difference between a child growing up to be an independent member of society versus the possibility of being placed into a group home or institutional setting away from their family. Including Kids, Inc. provides children with autism a one-to-one therapeutic program based on a well-documented research based behavioral intervention and instruction. This type of intervention focuses on successfully providing help to families who need to facilitate their child’s inclusion into a mainstream classroom and community setting.
The kinds of deficits and excesses that may challenge a person with autism are:
- Communication - they may have little or no expressive (spoken) or receptive (understood) language, they may be echolalic (repeating words or phrases), or even have a peculiar way to speak (they might get fixed on a particular topic area, or their pitch or tone may sound odd).
- Social Skills - they may avoid social contact altogether, or they may be awkward and unsure of how to interact. Social rules can seem very arbitrary, complex, and perplexing.
- Play Skills - left on their own, they may not play with or experience toys in the same way a typically developing child would. They may become obsessed with a particular toy or object and perseverate with it (repeatedly do the same thing).
- Visual and Auditory Processing - these senses may be very under-reactive, having little or no response to visual or auditory cues, or they may be overly sensitive to a barrage of sights and sounds and find them overwhelming.
- Self Stimulation - they may engage in ‘self-stimulator’ behavior which can be soothing and predictable for them. This could involve the entire body, by rocking, hand flapping, spinning in circles, etc., using toys in unusual or inappropriate ways, or having obsessions, such as needing people or objects to be in the same place, or needing events to follow a predictable pattern.