Autism Awareness Month

April is national Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd is recognized internationally as World Autism Awareness Day.

How is autism diagnosed?

In the United States, the most popular way of diagnosing mental disorders is through the diagnostic system created by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). They frequently update their system and are currently on their 5th edition (DSM-5).

According to the DSM-5, Autism is now called autism spectrum disorder. Where someone lies on the spectrum is dependent on the severity of the symptoms.

According to WebMD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is:

“A complex neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors… ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care.”

What are the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder?

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder typically appear within the first three years of a child’s life. Symptoms vary, but common symptoms are:

  • Speech delay in children
  • Flat speech
  • Learning disabilities
  • Poor eye contact
  • Inappropriate social interaction
  • Repetitive movements
  • Self-harm
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Inability to understand or perceive others’ emotion
  • Tantrums and temper outbursts

Tips for parents who have children with autism

Raising a child is difficult, period. But raising a child that has Autism Spectrum Disorder brings other factors into play that can make it even more challenging especially for those who haven’t been around those with Autism.

1- Get your child tested.If you suspect your child is on the Autism spectrum, get them tested. Once you know if your child has Autism or not, learn all there is to know about Autism. This will help you understand your child better, be informed of the best treatment options, and find a community with support.

2- Be an expert on your child. Get to know your child’s individual triggers, agitations, what soothes them, what makes them happy, etc. Learning the intricacies of your child will help you know how to best help them and avoid situations that could potentially trigger them. Look for their non-verbal cues that help you know their mood, what they want, how they feel, etc.

3- Accepting what is. It may be hard not to compare your child with Autism to other children their age or even to their other siblings, but try to avoid this. Accepting your child’s individuality and quirks will help you learn to love and appreciate them for who they are. Instead of seeing the differences, you’ll begin to see the blessings that have come into your life by having such a special child.

tips for children with autism

1- Stability and Structure. Stability and structure are needed for every child, but even more so for children with ASD. Stability and structure help children feel safe and can help them know what to expect. Children with ASD especially crave this structure and may have tantrums if the schedule is not followed. Create a schedule for meal times, bedtime, fun time, etc.

2- Positive Reinforcement. Children with ASD are highly sensitive. Since a common symptom of ASD is the inability to correctly read and understand emotions and social cues, rewarding good behavior will go a lot further than trying to correct unwanted behavior. Give reward, praise, and love when good behavior is demonstrated. Be specific about what it is you are praising them for.

3- PLAY! A child with ASD is still a child and craves play time. Help them find ways where they can be creative and express themselves. Play helps children express themselves and ultimately makes them happier. Make sure to have time every day to play with your child.

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Neurofeedback Therapy: Treatment for ADHD, Anxiety, Traumatic Brain Injury, and More

If you’re curious about neurofeedback therapy and how it can help you, you’re not the only one. Every month thousands of people look it up in search engines. Why? Because it’s a non-invasive, non-medication therapy that works wonders.

Jessica Harper, the owner of Aspen Valley Counseling, used to get in her car and know she was going to miss the entrance of wherever she was going. Without fail, a chorus of groans sounded off in the back seat of her silver VW bug as her children cried, “Not again!” But after doing neurofeedback therapy, she hasn’t missed an entrance. “It’s pretty amazing that neurofeedback—something so simple in practice—has helped me in such a day-to-day thing.”

In a typical neurofeedback therapy session, a neurofeedback technician places electrodes on a client’s head, and then the computer program creates images on the screen that represent the client’s brain waves. The client will see their own brain activity and learn to change it, which helps them learn to manage their emotions, thoughts, and performance.

Basics of Neurofeedback Therapy

Neurofeedback therapy helps with a myriad of mental health–related issues that deal with the brain. It can help

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Performance (such as for sports)
  • Autism
  • Energy Levels
  • PTSD
  • Brain Injury
  • Meditation

It’s non-invasive and doesn’t involve any medication. So if you’re looking for an alternative to medication, neurofeedback therapy could be something you might want to try.

It may seem too good to be true, but it works wonders for people! For effective treatment, a patient should attend at least 20 sessions (and at least two sessions per week) for long-term results. A patient can finish them faster by doing two sessions per day, five times per week.

If you’re on medication, you can still do neurofeedback therapy. With supervision on your doctor or provider, some people can even cut down or stop using medication after completing neurofeedback therapy.

Cost of Neurofeedback Therapy

Most insurance companies do not cover neurofeedback, since they see it as an unnecessary treatment. Western medicine is typically medication-based, so an insurance company is much more likely to cover costs of medication. But if you don’t want to take medication to improve your mental health, and you’re seeking out alternative medicine, you’re probably going to be paying out of pocket anyway.

Neurofeedback is a great option for someone looking to treat their mental health. Most neurofeedback sessions cost around $75 to $100 per session plus an extra cost for the first appointment. If you’re looking for a cheaper option and you happen to live in Utah, Aspen Valley Counseling in Orem, Utah (Utah County) charges clients $50 per session.