Autism Therapy in NYC for Children
What is autism?
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental condition due to differences in the brain. Autism often begins early in life, from as early as 1-3 years old, and can last a lifetime; however, symptoms can improve over time. What differentiates those with ASD from most other people is the ways in which they behave, communicate, interact, and learn.
Importantly, as the name “Autism Spectrum Disorder” suggests, the abilities of those with autism can vary significantly. For example, some people with ASD can converse at advanced levels, while others may be non-verbal. An autism spectrum test can help determine the symptoms and functioning abilities for someone with autism.
What are the challenges to living with autism?
Those with autism may have difficulties with social interaction and communication, such as the inability to make eye contact or talk about feelings. They may display repetitive behaviors, such as repeating phrases, or can be overly restricted to certain objects or subjects. Additionally, they may learn differently, or have challenges with paying attention.
Having these characteristics throughout adolescence and adulthood can make life especially challenging for those with ASD. They may experience challenges with developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers, or understanding professional expectations. Finally, those with ASD also have an 85% rate of having other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD, which present another set of challenges.
Possible challenges for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Delayed learning and language skills
- Delayed or unusual movement skills
- Excessive worry, anxiety, or stress
- Lack of fear, or the opposite, excessive fear
- Hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattentive behavior
- Epilepsy or seizure disorder
- Atypical eating or sleeping habits
What are the causes of autism?
Current scientific understanding of autism is limited. There is not a single cause for autism, but rather many different factors that may increase the likelihood that a child will have ASD. These causes include environmental, biological, and genetic factors. Importantly, an increased risk for ASD is not the same as causing ASD. Many people with the factors listed below will not have ASD.
- Having a sibling or other family member(s) with ASD
- Having certain genetic abnormalities
- Experiencing birth complications
- Being born to older parents
Why have rates of autism gone up?
From 2000 to 2010, there was a reported 3x increase in children with autism in the US. While there may have been a real increase in autism rates, the better explanation is that more children have been labeled as having autism. There has been a growing awareness of autism, and screening tools have improved over time. Many other cognitive conditions have also been lumped into the definition of autism. These include “intellectual disabilities”, epilepsy, and ADHD.
Why are rates of autism among females so low?
The rate of autism is presently 4x greater for males than females. While there may be a sex-linked genetic basis to autism, this current disparity may not represent the true rate of autism between male and females.
It is likely that autism among females is underdiagnosed. One reason could be that girls and women are more likely to camouflage or hide their symptoms. Girls tend to be diagnosed for autism later in life, since the condition is harder to spot in girls.
Along this idea, girls could be underdiagnosed because there is also a perception that autism is stereotypically a condition for boys. Autism looks different in boys than it does in girls, making it difficult for clinicians to spot in girls even when they are looking for signs of autism. Girls may, on average, show less repetitive behaviors than boys do, and may also be better at blending in with the rest of their neurotypical peers.
What is the difference between autism and ADHD?
There are many overlaps between autism and ADHD, particularly in younger children. For example, both children with ASD and ADHD may have difficulty paying attention to things they have no interest in and may hyperfocus on other things.
One clear difference between ASD and ADHD is their methods of communication. Children with ASD may find it challenging to express their thoughts and feelings. They may struggle to make eye contact, and choose to remain passive in social situations. On the other hand, children with ADHD may talk continually, without any regard for the context of their words, and interrupt others.
Further, there are clear differences in preference for structure and routine between children with autism and ADHD. Children with ASD often prefer routines and continuity, such as wanting the same food for lunch every day, or they may read the same book over and over. Changing such a routine may cause irritability.
In contrast, children with ADHD may find repetitive structure to be uninteresting, and require a variety of activities inside and outside the classroom.
How do we treat autism?
The goal of treating ASD in children is to maximize their function and support their development and ability to learn. By treating ASD in early childhood, your child can develop critical communication, social, functional, and behavioral skills.
There are many elements to treating your child with ASD, and a treatment plan will vary greatly based on their needs and ASD symptoms. Importantly, your child’s needs may change over time, so it is important to create a flexible treatment plan.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA)
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) can help children develop new skills and apply these skills to a variety of situations through a reward system. The goal of ABA is to understand and change behavior, and this can be adapted to the needs of each child.
Parents and other family members can learn to interact and play with their children in ways that can promote social interaction skills, teach communication, and manage problem behaviors.
There is no medication that can improve the core symptoms of ASD, but certain medications can help control symptoms. For example, antidepressants may be used for excessive anxiety.
Many conventional mental health treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and supportive psychotherapy may be beneficial for those with autism. Those with ASD have much higher rates of other mental health conditions, so conventional mental health treatments are naturally effective.
However, standard treatment methods such as CBT may have to be adapted for those with autism, based on their symptoms and needs. Additionally, medication treatment may require different doses.
Find a NYC autism therapist at Integrative Psych
Integrative Psych is an NYC-based private practice which specializes in treating autism and its related conditions. Our clients are based in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan (Chelsea, Village, Lower East Side, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Tribeca, SoHo), Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, but our clinicians are licensed to treat anyone in the state of New York.
We take a compassionate, comprehensive and holistic approach to autism diagnosis and treatment at Integrative Psych. Here, we will carefully examine all aspects of your child’s life, evaluating all factors and parties that can play a role in your child’s development.
When making recommendations, treatment will be personalized to the presentation of autism. Incorporating many types of targeted therapy, treatment will aim to involve all relevant parties such as family members, school teachers, and counselors, depending on what works best for you and your child.
Decisions about what treatment or treatments to pursue for your child are made as a team, between you and your autism therapist. Once you and your child have begun care with us, we will see your child regularly to monitor their progress and make any adjustments necessary to ensure that they benefit fully from their treatment at Integrative Psych.
Obtain autism therapy in NYC today, if you are ready to:
- Examine and understand the spectrum of symptoms of your child’s autism
- Develop skills that will help your child thrive at school and daily life
- Have the support of a trusted expert with extensive experience with autism therapy
If you’re seeking treatment for your child and are interested in working with one of our autism therapists, book an appointment here.