Image courtesy of anankkml @ FreeDigitalPhotos,net
Image courtesy of anankkml @ FreeDigitalPhotos,net

My Child is diagnosed with Autism

    After further analysis the doctor comes back and says, your child has level 2 autism.  Your throat drops to your chest and you begin to panic, grasping at your mate’s hand. You start to frantically ask all these questions. Is it curable? Will my child grow out of autism? Where do we go from here? The only thing the doctor tells you is: It’s great that we detected it early.

         So now what? You get the news that your child has a level 2.5 of autism. Now the family will go through a roller coaster of feelings, from the famous, “how bad is it really?” syndrome, to the blame game, to further denial! Yes further denial. Oh and don’t forget, you will be borrowing trouble from the future. While unfortunately none of us can predict exactly what our future holds, you’ve already taken the steps by reading information like this to ensure that your child has the support and services they needs to know to help them reach their full potential.

    Before we go any further I wanted to let you know what levels mean in autism. The American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) uses a classification and diagnostic tool called Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders otherwise known as DSM-5 This test will determine the degree of your child’s mental disorder by mental health professionals.

These are the different levels as outlined by the DSM-5:

Level 1- Requiring Support:

  • Social Communication: Without supports in place, deficits in social communication cause noticeable impairments. Difficulty initiating social interactions, and demonstrates clear examples of atypical or unsuccessful responses to social overtures of others. May appear to have decreased interest in social interactions.
  • Restricted Interests and Repetitive Behaviors: Inflexibility of behavior causes significant interference with functioning in one or more contexts. Difficulty switching between activities. Problems of organization and planning hamper independence.

Level 2- Requiring Substantial Support:

  • Social Communication: Marked deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills; social impairments apparent even with social supports in place; limited initiation of social interactions and reduced or abnormal response to social overtures from others.
  • Restricted Interests and Repetitive Behaviors: Inflexibility of behavior, difficulty coping with change or other restricted/repetitive behaviors appear frequently enough to be obvious to the casual observers and interfere with functioning in a variety of contexts. Distress and/or difficulty changing focus or action.

Level 3- Requiring Very Substantial Support:

  • Social Communication: Severe deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills cause severe impairments in functioning, very limited initiation of social interactions, and minimal response to social overtures from others.
  • Restricted Interests and Repetitive Behaviors: Inflexibility of behavior, extreme difficulty coping with change, or other restricted/repetitive behaviors markedly interfere with functioning in all spheres. Great distress/difficulty changing focus or action.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) updated the DSM-5 in 2013 to categorize four previous diagnoses of: Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder into one single category called the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The APA, Neurodevelopmental work group,”Believe that a single umbrella disorder will improve the diagnosis of ASD without limiting the sensitivity of the criteria, or substantially change the number of children being diagnosed.”

Every individual that is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder will have their own unique experience. Some individuals will have incredibly rare talents in music, arts, mathematics, etc., while others have severe trouble in social situations or with normal means of communication. Some people are also incredibly high functioning and can live on their own, while others are disabled to the point where they are unable to live without constant supervision. Just as no two cases of ASD are the same, all interventional therapy should be completed on an individual basis.

    It is important that parents and family members of those that fall within Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) find the right autism resources to help them better cope with the diagnosis. You have heard it said, it takes a village to raise a child, well, it will take an army to raise my autistic children! so Join Normal life Inc.’s facebook group at #autismarmy This is where parents of autistic children can talk freely and feel like they are not being judged. Just click on the link and you will be added within 12 hours depending where you live. This group will support your family through all the levels of anxiety your family will face. I really believe that you will enjoy yourself and feel relieved that there are families like yours. A place where you can feel normal.

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