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What is Autism?
Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.
What are some of the signs and symptoms?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders, people with Autism often have:
- difficulty with communication and interaction with other people (including empathy),
- difficulties adapting in social environments,
- restricted interests and repetitive behaviours and routines,
- sensitivity to light and noise,
- hyperfocus on certain topics or objects,
- other symptoms that affect their ability to function in school and work, and
- other areas of life that can create anxiety and stress.
Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. There are also several strengths that individuals on the Autistic Spectrum have.
Each person with Autism is further assessed with either Autism level 1, level 2, or level 3, (DSM-5) depending on how severe their disorder is and how much support they need in their daily life.
The levels range from least to most severe: Autism level 3 describes an individual who has the most severe level of Autism symptoms, and level 1 describes someone with symptoms on the milder end of the spectrum.
Strategies to help manage Autism
For adults with Autism behavioural strategies may include, modifying the external environment (ie light and sound) to create a less stressful space to work, interpersonal and communication skills rehearsal (role plays) to increase social awareness and social understanding, increasing tolerance and learning to adapt to change.
Psychological strategies include mindfulness-based practices and self-talk strategies to assist with managing stress. Learning alternate coping skills in stressful situations and maintaining certain rituals and routines that provide comfort and self-care, staying connected with friends and family supports and expanding interests.
Sometimes people may have a combination of Autism and ADHD.
If you are diagnosed with ADHD as well, you may require medication. This is a restricted medication and can only be prescribed by a psychiatrist or pediatrician. You will need a GP referral to a psychiatrist which we can help you with. This will be an extra cost.
When to seek professional assistance
Often, people with Autism experience ongoing anxiety stress or depression at not being able to achieve their full potential or access full range of activities. Social and relationship at work related issues can be the reason that people initially seek treatment. If symptoms are significantly affecting your daily life, work or relationships it’s important to seek more professional help.
How Psychology Melbourne can help
Combined ADHD and Autism Assessment Package
This economic package provides a comprehensive ADHD/Autism assessment, five expert consultations, and a detailed report to enhance memory, focus, and behaviour.
Adult Autism Assessment Package
Have you ever wondered if you are on the spectrum? This assessment package provides a clear diagnosis and includes 3 consultations and a comprehensive report.
Early detection for Autism: Our Autism Screener identifies symptoms sooner for simpler treatment. Enjoy 10% off the full Autism test.
Psychology Melbourne can offer an objective assessment for Autism to see if you meet the diagnostic criteria. Following this, a report can be provided to take with you to other allied health and medical appointments with clear recommendations and a future plan.
Each person with Autism is further assessed with either Autism level 1, level 2, or level 3, (DSM-5) depending on how severe their disorder is and how much support they need in their daily life. The levels range from least to most severe, with Autism level 3 describing an individual who has the most severe level of Autism symptoms, and level 1 describing someone with symptoms on the milder end of the spectrum.
Psychologists at Psychology Melbourne can also help with specific challenges that arise for people with Autism and their families.
This includes individual counselling to:
- Provide strategies to help people with Autism manage anxiety and other mood problems such as depression. This often includes modified cognitive behavioral therapy, a method that helps individuals change negative thoughts and behaviors.
- Social skills training and accessing groups to help people with Autism improve conversational skills, nonverbal communication and play and increase empathy and social understanding.
- Work skills to help adults with autism better manage relationships with managers and co-workers and learn new work skills