Autism Spectrum disorder treatment center - MIAMI, FL

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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterized by neurological impairments related to the way a person interacts with their environment. According to the Mayo Clinic the main areas of interaction affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder are social engagement and communication (Mayo Clinic). In addition, a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder struggles with rigidity in their interactions/behaviors and pursues very restricted interests (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011). The Autism Spectrum Disorder spectrum varies in levels of severity and the influence it has on a person’s functioning (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011). Autism Spectrum Disorder ranges from low functioning to high functioning with unique and varied patterns in an individual’s behaviors (Mayo Clinic). Some individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder could also experience difficulty with learning while others tend to learn quickly but can struggle with communication and application to daily living activities and social situations (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011). Autism Spectrum Disorder is usually diagnosed within the first two years of life (Mayo Clinic). However, some individuals, particularly, with higher levels of functioning can be diagnosed in later life stages such as childhood, adolescence, or early/mid adulthood (Mayo Clinic). ASD occurs in all races, age and socio-economic groups (Mayo Clinic).

Common Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Some of the common symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that can be present with different levels of severity starting in early childhood and throughout the lifespan are:

  • Reduced eye-contact/no eye contact
  • Delayed onset of speech/ no speech
  • Regression in learned skills
  • Aggression (toward others and objects)
  • Self-injurious behaviors (head banging, scratching, cutting)
  • Non-responsiveness verbally and non-verbally toward others.
  • Particular fixation with objects/activities
  • Appearing disconnected from caregivers/other individuals around them.
  • Engaging in repetitive and limited patterns of behaviors
  • Challenges in functioning in multiple settings (i.e., school, non-preferred tasks, interpersonal relationships).

Although the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder in adolescents and adults can be very similar those in childhood there is a higher impact on functionality based on developmental stage. These symptoms can be particularly challenging to their functioning mostly due to societal expectations of how a person is expected to function based on their age in certain situations and environments particularly at work, school and in the community. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • Difficulty making sense of a social interaction/social cues
  • Challenges interpreting non-verbal communication
  • Difficulty with emotional regulation mostly around changes in daily routine/habits.
  • Restricted focus of activities
  • Engaging in repetitive routine or behaviors
  • Difficulty talking about a variety of subjects.
  • Difficulty initiating and maintaining relationships in a variety of settings

Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatment Options

The main goal for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder is increasing a person’s ability to function in a variety of settings. Intervention during early stages of ASD can support with learning of basic critical, social, communication and appropriate behavioral skills. Treatment often includes the incorporation of a team with different specialties and in a variety of settings to support the individual in multiple areas of their life. Some of the more common treatment interventions for ASD that support with increased functionality are:

School-Based Therapy

Therapy that occurs in a variety of school settings typically focuses on ensuring there is a highly structured/appropriate educational program for the child with increased supports and one-to-one aid if needed. Programs at school also focus on the development of social skills, communication skills, and pro-social behavior interventions.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is used in a variety of settings such as community-based, in-home and outpatient treatment. This form of therapy uses a variety of evidenced based models to teach primary and secondary caregivers’ ways to increase effective interaction with their child/adolescent/adult and amongst the family unit (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011). The goal of family therapy is to support caregivers with the promotion of social interactions, improving challenging behaviors and promote learning of skills and communication (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011).

Behavioral Interventions

Behavioral interventions is widely used in a variety of settings and focuses on increasing skills related to social, language, and behavioral difficulties. One of the most common treatment modalities used for ASD is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) which focuses on teaching skills that can be generalizable across multiple/different settings and situations (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011). This technique supports with identifying appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and teaches the individual to monitor their behaviors and use reward-based approach when engaging in positive behavior (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is another technique widely used to treat comorbid disorders with ASD such as depression and anxiety (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011). It is particularly used with older children/adolescents and adults that are more high functioning and can tolerate treatment (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011). It focuses on interrupting ineffective patterns in thought and behaviors through a variety of techniques that increase positive mood and adaptive behavior (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011). The NPCD-ASD supports the use of CBT for ASD with the aim of utilizing self-management techniques to help with behavioral regulation (NPCD-ASD). The self-monitoring tool helps an individual identify and track their behavior in a variety of environments and uses a reward- based system when positive/appropriate behavior occurs. (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011). CBT can be very successful in the treatment of ASD when the client has the cognitive level of tolerate this type of treatment (Doobay, Lindgren, 2011).

Medication

Although there is no specific medication to directly treat the social and language impairments in ASD there are effective medications that support with managing some of the symptomatology of ASD as well as symptoms of other co-occurring disorders (Mayo Clinic).  When combined with therapy and if deemed appropriate by a psychiatrist, medication can be very helpful in supporting with symptom management.

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Getting Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Miami, Florida

Galen Hope, a mental health treatment center in Miami, Florida, provides comprehensive services for a wide range of diagnoses and related conditions, including: Eating Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, Mood Disorders, PTSD/Trauma, Psychosis, Thought Disorders, and Schizoid Personality Disorder. Our treatment integrates the best concepts of residential programs, partial hospitalization programs, and community psychology in order to provide an experience that not only feels uniquely meaningful to the client, but also breaks the cycle of repeated hospitalizations, over-institutionalization, and isolation from community and family.

To learn more, or to join our community, contact us below.

References

Davis, N. O., & Kollins, S. H. (2012). Treatment for co-occurring attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder. Neurotherapeutics: the journal of the American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics9(3), 518– 530. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-012-0126-9

Leitner Y. (2014). The co-occurrence of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children - what do we know? Frontiers in human neuroscience8, 268. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00268.

Lindgren, S., & Doobay, D.A. (2012). Evidence-Based Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2018, January 6). Autism spectrum disorder. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 10, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/autism-spectrum- disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352928.

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders (2011). Evidence-Based Practices. Available at: http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu

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