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Understanding Autism

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Understanding that we are all different and all learn in different ways we take a look at Autism and how people on the spectrum see and work.

Kerri Delport in Conversation with Cannons Creek Radio
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What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism is a broad word used to describe a group of disorders of brain development. It affects the way people see the world and respond to things like sound, light, touch, space, smell and taste. Autism is also known as a communication disorder and affects four major areas of development. These include:

  •  Language and communication
  •  Social interaction
  •  Thinking and behavior
  •  Sensory processing

The symptoms of autism are usually evident before the age of three. The severity of the diagnosis or the level of support needed varies from person to person, and no two people with autism are alike. While autism is a life-long condition (there is no cure), early intervention can play a huge role in the prognosis, i.e. the management of symptoms and coping skills that can be taught. Once an individual is able to manage their anxiety (which is very common in people affected by ASD), they are able to learn other skills important for their development.

ASD affects 1 in 68 people globally. It affects 1 in 42 boys, and 1 in 189 girls. So boys are 4-5 times more likely to have autism than girls. Statistics have revealed a 10-17% annual growth rate in recent years.

Diagnostic Process

If you are concerned that your child might be on the Autism Spectrum, ask your GP to carry out a screening assessment and if he/she is concerned, to write a referral letter.

In some cases, a referral letter can also be written by one of the following:

  • Occupational therapist
  • Speech and language therapist
  • Teacher

Once you have a referral letter, make an appointment with one of the following professionals:

  • Developmental pediatrician (government or private)
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Educational Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist

You can either go onto the Autism Western Cape website for further information or call them on 021 685 9581

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