A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a child can be very difficult to accept and comprehend for parents and family members. The first instinct parents generally have is to try to find a way to help their child by any means possible, but finding the resources to seriously change a child's future can be challenging. Many parents become frustrated and feelings of desperation, depression and helplessness are not uncommon.

The first thing parents should know about autism is that is a disorder, not a disease. It cannot be cured, and once a child has been diagnosed as autistic, that child will be autistic his or her entire life. However, autism can be treated, and the good news is that in many cases it can be treated very effectively, provided the right interventions are used and they are begun early enough. That is where Special-Learning.com can be an invaluable resource. Applied at an early enough age, the information and tools available from this site can help a child learn skills that are critical for learning, communicating effectively with others, and living in society.

With ASD, a child's social and communicative skills are compromised due to a neurological disorder that affects the normal functions of the brain. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that no two children with autism will present the same symptoms or experience the same severity. Each child diagnosed with ASD will have symptoms that vary in intensity from mild to severe. A child may begin to show symptoms of the disorder as early as 18 months old, but most children are diagnosed between the ages of two and four years, and if parents are unaware of what signs to look out for, it is possible their child may not be diagnosed until he or she enters school.

In the most severe forms, the disorder is frequently associated with mental retardation, but there are children with ASD that are extremely intelligent as well. Some children with ASD may be introverted and socially awkward or inept while others readily enjoy socializing. It all depends on where in the autism spectrum the child's particular disorder lies.

When behavior analysts set out to work with a child with ASD, the goal is ultimately to help the child overcome his or her impairments in the following categories:

  • Social development
  • Self-help
  • Reception and expression of language
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Tantrums
  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Inability to handle change

Although there are no known cures for autism, there are non-medical approaches that have been scientifically proven to effectively improve the quality of life for some children diagnosed with ASD. Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA, has gained strong credibility in helping children with autism, due in part to the fact that it is evidence-based so improvements in skills and behaviors can be clearly observed and measured. All of the tools and techniques available through Special-Learning.com adhere rigidly to ABA principles.

For more in-depth information about autism, please see our eBook The ABCs of Autism: The Basics of Autism Spectrum Disorder - Parents .

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