Frequently Asked Questions
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Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Individuals with autism process information differently than those not on the spectrum for autism.
1 in 50 children (1 in 68 individuals of all ages) have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC. Autism is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Autism is 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).
Individuals with an autism have medical expenditures that exceeded those without autism by $4,110–$6,200 per year. On average, medical expenditures for individuals with an autism were 4.1–6.2 times greater than for those without an autism. Differences in median expenditures ranged from $2,240 to $3,360 per year with median expenditures 8.4–9.5 times greater. In 2005, the average annual medical costs for Medicaid-enrolled children with autism were $10,709 per child, which was about six times higher than costs for children without autism ($1,812). In addition to medical costs, intensive behavioral interventions for children with autism cost $40,000 to $60,000 per child per year.
Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult, since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.
ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with an ASD might not get the help they need.
Diagnosing an ASD takes two steps:
- Developmental Screening
- Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation
Developmental screening is a short test to tell if children are learning basic skills when they should, or if they might have delays. During developmental screening the doctor might ask the parent some questions or talk and play with the child during an exam to see how she learns, speaks, behaves, and moves. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a problem.
All children should be screened for developmental delays and disabilities during regular well-child doctor visits at:
- 9 months
- 18 months
- 24 or 30 months
- Additional screening might be needed if a child is at high risk for developmental problems due to preterm birth, low birth weight or other reasons.
In addition, all children should be screened specifically for ASD during regular well-child doctor visits at:
- 18 months
- 24 months
- Additional screening might be needed if a child is at high risk for ASD (e.g., having a sister, brother or other family member with an ASD) or if behaviors sometimes associated with ASD are present
It is important for doctors to screen all children for developmental delays, but especially to monitor those who are at a higher risk for developmental problems due to preterm birth, low birth weight, or having a brother or sister with an ASD.
If your child’s doctor does not routinely check your child with this type of developmental screening test, ask that it be done.
If the doctor sees any signs of a problem, a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation is needed.
Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation
The second step of diagnosis is a comprehensive evaluation. This thorough review may include looking at the child’s behavior and development and interviewing the parents. It may also include a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and other medical testing.
In some cases, the primary care doctor might choose to refer the child and family to a specialist for further assessment and diagnosis. Specialists who can do this type of evaluation include:
- Developmental Pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs)
- Child Neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves)
- Child Psychologists or Psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind)
Reference: Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html, please visit the CDC website for more information.
2. If your Aspergers youngster says ''I need help with ___'', that is what he needs help with, even if it doesn't seem possible. The other side of the coin is if the youngster says ''I am capable of ___'', it is a good idea to trust that.
3. Many Aspergers kids are very intelligent and may have extraordinary skills that you may or may not understand, but at the same time, your youngster may lack what will seem to you to be common sense.
4. You and your Aspergers youngster do not experience life the same way, so their obstacles, interests, complaints, frustrations are likely to seem illogical to you and to those around you. There are many issues that contribute to the way they view the world around them. There are communication issues, stigma, sensory, 'stereotypical interests', unique responses to social issues, stressors, and additional things than you may be able to imagine. If you look at it as if they are dodging paintballs all day long every day, paintballs which are invisible to you, it may make a little more sense that they move the way they do, talk the way they do, and make the decisions the way they do.
5. You and your Aspergers youngster do not think alike. This means that you are likely to misunderstand each other. Knowing this will enable you to do three things:
Aspergers is a neurological disorder, and is one of five diagnoses that comprise what's called “the autism spectrum.” The “autism” label has carried some serious baggage. So much so that in the 1960s there was born a movement of “anti-labelism” where kids were no longer stamped with a diagnosis, and instead their condition was referred to only as “special.” This trend swung too far in the other direction though. Now it's time to embrace terms like “Aspergers” and “Autism,” so that those with the disorder can begin dealing with exactly what it is that makes them different—both the negatives and the positives.
What can moms and dads with Aspergers children do to handle stress? Here are some ideas:
1. Joining a support group can be a great way for families to relieve stress. When someone tells you “I understand …I've been there” – nothing feels better at that moment.
2. Make sure you're taken care of. There's a good reason that the airline stewardess instructs passengers to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before assisting their kids. If you can't be there in a healthy, operating way, you're not much good to your youngster.
3. One of the biggest challenges for children with Aspergers is an ability to shrug off life's failures. But, moms and dads can help their kids to process failure better. Praise, and praise, and praise for trying. Very often moms and dads say, “This is a special youngster, and I want to shield him from failure.” It's a good thought, but it's not the final resting ground. The final resting ground is independence and bravery.
4. Read up on the history of Aspergers to find out how the view of "the Aspergers condition" has developed over the years. Depending on the challenges of their particular youngster, moms and dads will feel some sense of pressure to change that youngster—maybe due to an outburst in the supermarket or an awkward conversation with the neighbors. We can all forgive ourselves when want to secede to societal pressure. What's important is this: loving your youngster for who he is.
When awarding Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to children, the Social Security Administration (SSA) accounts for the fact that diseases and impairments can have very different effects on children and adults.
Income and Asset Limits
Threshold Medical Eligibility Requirements
Being Deemed Disabled
Marked and Severe Functional Limitations
Medical Evidence Requirements
The SSA will also consider school records and reports in considering the child’s level of impairment.
Timeline for Disability Decision
Continuing Disability Reviews
Here is a sample letter, you can download and edit, to give to your child's teacher.
Please click here to see seminar notes from our last Gluten Free/Dairy Free seminar. We hope you find this information helpful. Elimination of food dyes, preservatives, additives, and supplementation of vitamins, etc. have also been proven to be effective for many individuals with autism. It is recommended you consult with a functional medicine doctor (click here for our Best Outcomes™ Resource Guide) to make the best decision (we are not licensed physicians, we are only providing helpful suggestions). In addition here is some other helpful dietary information.
Here is information from the Department of Education/Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the State of Florida on how they help with transportation services.