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Managing autism spectrum disorder

Visit us (http://www.khanacademy.org/science/healthcare-and-medicine) for health and medicine content or (http://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat) for MCAT related content. These videos do not provide medical advice and are for informational purposes only. The videos are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen in any Khan Academy video. Created by Emma Giles.

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  • leafers tree style avatar for user Britannia B.S.L.M.W
    With managing Autism, one of my relatives has Autism and struggles with communicating. She uses prompt cards that say, for example; help please, I need a break, restroom please ect. She is approaching her tween years and I was thinking since she is still young can't teaching her to communicate with words be better for her when she is an adult?
    (4 votes)
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    • female robot ada style avatar for user Katey Gordon
      Hi Britannia,
      Unfortunately this is question that would be best aswered by a physician often a speech therapist would work to help them communicate. Personally I was born with mito disease when I was born I had been speech delayed it was quite difficult for my parents we had to use sign language. It wasn't until the age of three I entered a government funded program that provided speech therapy. Using Play based therapy and Art Therapy I finally found my own voice that help me open up and communicate. Also my mother worked hard to help me learn to read everyday which also help me further develop once I was in my teen years I had help from Child Life Specialists and pediatric program that help given me a voice to which this day I now do speaking events and advocate the importance of Child Life Services and the benefits of Play as being once who still experiences my own disability. Everybody has there own way of communicating unfortunately we look for what we understand but if we listen you would understand your realitive has there own language the question how do they speak to us?

      Technology is definitely helping and perhaps accessibility and applications may offer her in adult years to communicate more.
      (7 votes)
  • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Kutili
    What medications would we use to combat some of the symptoms of autism spectre disorder, and how effective are they?
    (2 votes)
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  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Britannia Lestange
    People who have a child with ASD, I always hear that they always give in it there child whenever it throughs a fit just to avoid it. Won't that hurt the child for when it is in its older years?
    (1 vote)
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    • female robot grace style avatar for user Mariska Veldman
      If I understand correctly, your question is: why do parents of children with asd always give in if there kid gets mad?
      I don't think this is true, but I can understand why it would look like that sometimes. When a child with autism throws a tantrum, it's usually because they feel like they're losing control (for example because their routine changed or because they are overstimulated). This is not a sign of resistance, but a sign that something's wrong. So no, giving in to the child is not a wrong approach, because the kid's not trying to get what they want; they're trying to get what they NEED (in the way you need water when you're thirsty). Children with autism have trouble communicating how they feel and what they need, so for a lot of kids this results in tantrums. Some children can learn better to communicate when they get older, some don't. This is not due to whether the parents gave in, but rather to the severity of the kid's autism, the kid's intelligence and the quality of help they get.
      (4 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Sharna Connolly
    Would creating a 'perfect' environment make it harder for the child as they grow up, when they realize the world is not always a structured or neat place, they can't always get what they want (like the same meals), sometimes things change, and other people may not be able to understand. Would it cause more problems for the child then? Of course I understand when they are young, having a stable environment is necessary ;)
    (0 votes)
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    • primosaur ultimate style avatar for user Elian
      As an autistic person who did not grow up in an environment that was managed to be less stressful for me and as someone with a more than moderate understanding of ASD, I would say no. The point is with ASD is that these difficulties largely cannot be outgrown or learnt to ignore. Mild to moderate learning to use social skills is certainly possible for almost all with ASD, but sensory things like food and environmental stimuli cannot be 'taught' out of the person. No matter how many times you would try to make the person become accustomed to these things, there would be little more than mild improvements over a lifetime, and that type of thing is something that should really be the choice of the individual with ASD and on there own terms when they are old enough, otherwise the reaction would likely just be amplified due to an added negative association with the stimuli and would just cause completely unnecessary suffering in the individual.
      (3 votes)

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] So in this video we're gonna talk about how we manage autism spectrum disorder. And in order for us to figure out how we might go about doing that, let's actually pull up the criteria here that we use to diagnose autism spectrum disorder. So if we look at this, the two main sort of signs that we need to see in someone in order to diagnose autism spectrum disorder are trouble with communication and interaction and restrictive, repetitive behaviors. And we can see here that there are a few different ways that these problems could manifest, so this is what we would look for if we were trying to figure out if someone has autism spectrum disorder. And, since these are the main sort of problems that someone with autism spectrum disorder can experience, well, it's these that we also want to focus on when we're thinking about managing autism spectrum disorder. Now something that we need to keep in mind when we're thinking about managing autism spectrum disorder is that someone with autism spectrum disorder, they follow along a spectrum, right? So how much trouble they have with communication and interaction and restricted and repetitive behaviors, how much trouble they have in these domains really varies a lot between different people with autism spectrum disorder. So that means that we really want individualized management plans for different people with autism spectrum disorder to make sure that the plans really address each person's strengths and their symptoms, because this can really vary depending on where along the autism spectrum the person falls. So you might have picked up on the fact that I'm using the word manage here, rather than the word treat, and that's because there isn't really a cure for these troubles that someone with autism spectrum disorder can experience. So instead what we want to focus on is managing these troubles by trying to minimize how much they interfere with the person's day to day life. And a big part of how we do that, especially when a child is younger, is we get the parents, and other family members, and teachers involved in creating an ideal environment for the kid with autism spectrum disorder. And this ideal environment, what it is, is it's an environment that addresses these different troubles that someone with autism spectrum disorder can have. So let's take a look at what this might look like. So in order to help a child with autism spectrum disorder work on their communication and interaction skills parents or teachers might make sure that the child has lots of interactive playtime every day. So the teacher might make sure that the child has time to interact with his or her peers, maybe by working on classroom activities together. These sorts of social activities are made a priority every day so that the child has lots of opportunities to work on his or her communication and interaction skills in different ways. And at home, maybe the parents would really focus on making communication and interaction an important priority. Maybe they would practice using nonverbal gestures and making sure that the child is able to use and understand these skills when they interact with the parents or other family members. Now part of making sure that a kid with autism spectrum disorder is able to thrive and work on their communication is making sure that they're comfortable in their environment. And since we know that kids with autism spectrum disorder can be really set on routines and have trouble with change what we often focus on in managing autism spectrum disorder is making sure that the child has a really structured environment. So this might mean that parents and teachers make sure that their routines, like getting ready for school and after school activities and bedtimes and meals are always the same. Maybe this means that the child is in a smaller classroom so that they're able to get some more one on one time with the teacher who can make sure that the day really follows a nice routine. And if the child has an activity that they're really into, maybe something like playing with cars, well this might be implemented into the daily schedule to make sure that the child has a routine that includes the activity that they really enjoy. And parents and teachers would also likely identify any environmental stimuli, like lights, or sounds, or smells, that really overstimulate and bother the child with autism spectrum disorder, and to make sure that these are avoided. So all of these measures to create a structured environment, this is done so that the child is able to function their best and be able to work on their communication and interaction skills in an environment that they're comfortable in. Now sometimes managing autism spectrum disorder involves a few other measures to help deal with other disorders and problems that can occur in kids with autism spectrum disorder. So, for example, sometimes kids with autism spectrum disorder have trouble with attention and hyperactivity. This might happen because they also have another disorder called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or maybe this inattention and hyperactivity occurs because they are struggling with anxiety, which is actually another common problem for kids with autism spectrum disorder. Kids with autism spectrum disorder are also at a higher risk of having a few other conditions, like seizures, and sleep trouble, and depression. So sometimes medications that help target and manage these other symptoms and conditions can become a part of a management plan for autism spectrum disorder.