A significant number of children are diagnosed each year with autism. There is no clear definition of its origins and many differing opinions on its causes, however experts in the field agree that autism is a neuropsychological disorder. Autism is not a disorder or a unique disease; rather it is a combination of symptoms resulting from a number of factors that prevent a child from developing language within accepted developmental time frames and experiencing executive reasoning deficits in their thinking and behavior. Autism may be attributed to factors related to the birth process, genetic vulnerability, undiagnosed neurological disease such as seizures and severe untreated sleep apnea. It may be impacted by factors such as a lowered immune system response, poor diet and nutrition, development of allergies and asthma or gastrointestinal disorders/disease. These in turn can create vulnerability to toxins in the environment and vaccines, producing behaviors such as poor eye contact and lack of attention often resulting in a further delay or lack of language development.
Stereotyped behaviors such as perseveration (becoming stuck), emotional reactivity, obsessive compulsive behaviors and a rigid manner of thinking and responding to people or events in their environment make these children difficult to teach. Symptoms can be seen as early as six months. Early intervention is an important factor in the prognosis and development of this sensitive child. Approximately 70 percent of children diagnosed with autism have intellectual impairment, 25 to 35 percent develop major motor seizures, 27 to 65 percent have EEG abnormalities, and 5 to 10 percent have a specific diagnosis of tuberous sclerosis, fragile X or Rett disorder. The most reliable accurate diagnosis for autism derives from neuropsychological testing as it is a neuropsychological disorder.
At United Psychological Services we can:
- Provide an accurate diagnosis of the symptoms as well as help to identify the various causal factors using neuropsychological evaluation.
- Separate out the factors involving executive reasoning deficits and specific brain processes responsible for the behavior problems and problem acquiring language.
- Suggest specific treatment strategies to be used within the school setting and at home based upon brain behavior principles.
- Help in the academic setting and development of an IEPC plan that targets the child’s specific needs.
- Provide a brain/cognitive training program to help develop language skills, bolster reading, speaking and writing skills as an early language intervention.
- Offer one of the only programs for treatment specifically aimed at the executive reasoning brain processes.
- Partner with medical professionals to include referrals for sleep study relating to apneas, seizure evaluation, nutrition and diet, testing for toxins and immune system and gastrointestinal disorders.
- Offer intervention for speech and language deficits through qualified staff trained in executive reasoning principles for an individualized pre-reading and writing skills treatment program.
- Ongoing social skills group to foster social emotional intelligence and social skills with same age peers.