Learning your child has autism can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. Research shows that intervention at an early age can make a significant difference.
What is autism? What does it mean for your child? And how can you best support them? These are just some of the questions parents of newly diagnosed children are seeking the answers to.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder affecting the way a person communicates and relates to those around them. It affects people in three main areas, known as the triad of impairments: social interaction, social communication and social imagination.
It is also a spectrum condition, which means while all people with autism will share certain areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in different ways. Your child may find it difficult to make eye contact with others, have delayed or repetitive language, or even take language literally.
Social imagination affects a child’s ability to think flexibly and as a result your child may be rigid with certain routines, like driving to school the same way or a procedure for preparing for bed. Some may fixate on a particular item, activity or topic. This can be an issue if it affects your child’s ability to learn new skills or engage in other activities, however, for others, it can be a real strength.
No matter how autism affects your child, it is important to remember that they may want friends and to socialise, but for some, it does not come naturally. They may need to be explicitly taught these skills. Your child may have delayed language or speak with unusual or repetitive language. They may have difficulties approaching others and starting conversations. Some individuals with autism take language literally and as a result find it difficult to understand sarcasm or metaphors.
While there is no known cause or cure for autism, there are steps you can take to ensure your child has the best opportunity to reach their full potential. A program that provides specialist support to develop your child’s essential life skills, independence and confidence, will give them the opportunity to achieve the best outcomes.
Focusing on children in the pre-school years (aged two to six), AEIOU Foundation provides evidence-based early intervention to children with autism and their families. They o er individual programs in a group setting, delivered by transdisciplinary teams of behaviour therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and educators – all of whom are autism-specific trained.
Their family-centred service focuses on supporting and upskilling parents, carers and key support workers to achieve shared end goals. They also provide families with assistance to transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. There are nine AEIOU centres across the country, including three in Brisbane (Nathan, Bray Park and Camira) and one on the Gold Coast.