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Frequently Asked Questions of Parents

Needless to say, if anything is not clear and you would like us to help, please contact us.
In the Classroom

What is the difference between intellectual developmental disabilities
(previously referred to as retardation) and autism

Firstly, autism is not mental retardation.
The definition of intellectual developmental disability actually requires the diagnosis of three different characteristics that coincide:
A. Low IQ - 70 or below.
B. Poor personal and social adaptation - functional-behavioral-social difficulty in relation to what is .expected of his peers in his cultural group (the child's "natural" environment) For example: functional independence in daily activities: showering, maintaining personal hygiene, dressing etc. Also, examples of communicative and social adaptation: recognition and response according to different social situations, ability to speak in complex sentences according to what is expected of his age.
C. The above criteria should appear during the developmental period, from birth to age 18 Thus it is possible to exclude from the equation situations of loss of mental capacity, which are not related to development, such as a stroke or head injury and more.
About 30% of children diagnosed with autism also suffer from developmental intellectual disability (ID) :Diagnosis of ID is usually made around the age of 4-5 years. Suspicious signs of ID: When the child presents a significant delay in several areas of development and does not perform as expected of his age at least in some areas of development towards the age of three.

Will my child be able speak in the future

About 30% of the children diagnosed with autism are defined as "Minimally Verbal" - children who do not speak at all or proactively use 30 words or less. It is clear to us that the earlier the therapeutic intervention is given, the chances of reaching a higher developmental potential increase significantly.
According to data from the Koegel Center for Autism: 95%of the children who did not speak, but were treated with the PRT method before the age of 3, began to speak. The figures decrease at later ages.
Children who did not speak and received the intervention between the ages of 3-5: 85%-90% of this group, began to speak.  About 20% of the children who did not speak and received the intervention after the age of 5, managed to speak.

What can we expect down the road

Unfortunately, the range is wide and there is no way to predict the functional ability of the child diagnosed with autism. On the one hand, some people with autism achieve complete independence, start a family and even manage to make a living. On the other hand, some will need 24-hour support and assistance for the rest of their lives. People on the autism spectrum, especially those who succeed in acquiring language and speech skills may be able to live an independent life (even if they struggle on a social level). Therefore, it is of considerable importance to provide early intervention as much as possible. If you suspect that there is a delay/disruption in some areas of your child's development, please consult your pediatrician as soon as possible.

How do we know if the treatment is working

Parents often encounter a variety of recommendations and different opinions regarding treatments for autism. In some cases, these opinions are based on personal experience, beliefs, intuition or customary therapeutic tradition, as opposed to information based on real research and science, which is tested by criteria that indicates objectivity, without biases about its effectiveness.
When you want to check if the treatment helps and is appropriate, as yourself the following: A. Has the treatment been tested as effective by accepted scientific standards? B. Is the treatment plan personalized and includes measurable goals? C. Is an evaluation carried out every period of time that checks which goals were achieved or whether there has been a measurable and objective improvement? This is in order to adapt the treatment plan to the child's changing condition.

What is important that we do to improve the child's condition

The treatment of a child with autism is extremely complex, this is due to the differences between children with autism. Therefore, the treatment plan should be built individually for each child. There are many types of treatments for autism and the guiding principle of an effective treatment will be one that has been scientifically tested and has shown superiority and effectiveness over other treatments. Of course, the interaction between the child and the therapist and open and patient communication between the parents and the therapist are also important. If you have chosen more than one therapist, it is recommended to connect the therapists in order to make sure that the treatment is coordinated for maximum effectiveness. It is important to remember that any treatment plan should suit both the child and the family, since the treatments are a significant aspect of family's life.

What is the effect on the family

After receiving the diagnosis, the family must face many and unexpected difficulties. The parents may experience differetnfeelings, such as: pain, sadness, guilt, helplessness and more, There feelings have an impact both at the marital level and at the family level. It is important that you remember to take care of yourselves, your relationship and your family in order to provide you and your child with the strength required for the process and go through it in the best possible way. Some of the tasks and challenges along the way are finding a suitable a educational system, choosing complementary treatments, investing a considerable amount of time, exhausting rights from the authorities and more. The diagnosis definitely affects the nuclear and extended family, but it is important to know that you are not alone and there are organizations and associations that provide support for families, in support groups, individual counseling, information and help with the bureaucracy.

Will the diagnosis change in a few years

The diagnosis is made according to the DSM 5 criteria, which is the psychiatrists' diagnosis book. Autism is not a disease and therefore there is no such thing as a cure for autism. The neurological and developmental potential of the child must be maximized so that they can live with dignity and independence as much as possible. If the diagnosis is made before the age of 7, National Insurance will give the diagnosis temporary validity, which you will be asked to renew at the age of 7. There may be isolated cases in which when the child arrives for the renewal of recognition of the diagnosis, he does not meet the criteria of the DSM, but in most cases the diagnosis does not change.

What is the meaning of
"Low/High function"

One of the first things that parents of a child on the spectrum encounter, even at the diagnosis stage, are the definitions of the child's level of functioning.

There are several indicators to determine the functional level of a child with autism, among them are cognitive ability, level of support for the child derived from the severity of symptoms and more.

The level of cognitive function is determined according to the IQ and it is customary to classify those with an IQ lower than 80 as low function. An IQ below 70 is defined as having a "developmental intellectual disability". An IQ higher than 100 is defined as high functioning.

The severity of the symptoms is divided into severity levels: Level 1 - "requires support" | Level 2 "requires significant support" | Level 3 - "requires very significant support"

The degree is determined according to the severity of the two core symptoms in autism:

A. Consistent difficulty in communication and/or social interaction.

B. Repetitive and narrow patterns of behaviors and/or activities and/or interests.

According to the severity of these two symptoms, the person's level of assistance is graded, from a level where he needs support and assistance continuously for the rest of his life to a person who is able to maintain a regular family life and work.


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