Understanding the Spectrum of AutismFebruary 12, 2017 12:00 pm Leave your thoughts
Updated August 25, 2022
What Does “Spectrum” Mean?
ASD = Autism Spectrum Disorder.
We frequently hear about Autism and what this diagnosis means. Rarely do we talk about a very important component of this diagnosis; Spectrum. Spectrum is defined as “a wide range”. When you think about this word, a color Spectrum may come to mind, ranging from warm colors to cold and encompassing all the pigments we see each day. For Autism, the word Spectrum holds a very similar meaning.Children diagnosed with Autism fall somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. Just like the Spectrum of colors this Spectrum encompasses a large range of traits. As different as navy and magenta or as similar as rose and bubble gum pink. People on the Spectrum may exhibit few or many of the traits associated with Autism. They also may present these behaviors with different intensities. Depending on the level of supports needed and the intensity of behaviors in the areas of communication, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests, a child may be described as a level 1, 2, or 3 on the Autism Spectrum. The most recent diagnostic manual defines these levels. Click here for more information.
When referring to a child with Autism, it is common to hear questions such as “what is their special talent?” or comments like “they can’t talk”. The media has portrayed Autism to be either just like “Rain Man” or “non-vocal”. This is why understanding the Spectrum is so important. Although a person with Autism may have a unique and flawless talent, it is more common for them to range in abilities throughout the Spectrum. Remembering that Autism is a Spectrum frees us up from the common thought pattern of “all” and “always” and keeps us from making assumptions and generalizations about people on the Spectrum.
The Spectrum and Services
If you have seen your child around other children on the Spectrum it will quickly become evident that although the diagnosis is the same, there are clear differences. Some common differences are seen through communication style, behavior triggers, and level of interest in others. These differences exemplify the need for individualized treatment and programming. There is no universal program to implement for kids with Autism. Instead programming looks at the whole Spectrum and the traits that each child exhibits to create the appropriate plan to target specific needs.
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Check out our other blog posts on Autism Awareness: What is Autism and What are the Early signs and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Behavioral Therapy Programs Are Available to Help You and Your Child Thrive!
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