Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism is a neurological disorder  that affects an individual’s ability to communicate, understand language and relate to others.  Autism is called a “spectrum disorder” because people may have some or all of the following characteristics,  varying from mild to severe:

  • Communication problems (for example, with the use or comprehension of language);
  • Difficulty relating to people, things, and events;
  • Playing with toys and objects in unusual ways;
  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine or to familiar surroundings; and
  • Repetitive body movements or behaviors.

Children with autism or other disorders on the autism spectrum differ in ability and behavior because of the difference in the individual’s ability to process information from the environment.  Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can often be reliably detected by 3 years of age and sometimes as early as 18 months.  Autism spectrum disorders can affect individuals of all racial, ethnic and economic groups. 

What if my child is newly diagnosed?

Please check out the information on our page for ASD- New Diagnosis

What about the autism insurance coverage in Michigan?

The Michigan Autism Program went into effect on April 1, 2013. This Autism Benefit provides children ages 18 months through 5 years old who have a medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services.  Specifics can be found on the Michigan Autism Program Website.

Can Autism be cured? 

As of now there is no known cure but parent’s experience and research is showing that early intervention and a variety of treatments and therapies can lead to better outcomes in life for people on the autism spectrum.

 What do I need to think about for my child’s IEP? 

Students with Autism often are eligible for services under the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The IEP is a process that results in a document, the IEP, which guides the student’s education.   This means parents and educators  work together to make an educational plan  that provides supports, services, accommodations and modifications that fit the individual student with an autism spectrum disorder.  These supports and services are designed to help the student learn within the general educational curriculum along with other students.  Visit our website for more information on the IEP process.

The educational plan for each student should be individualized and address the students’ needs  in all areas:  academic, social and adaptive, communication, as well as gross and fine motor development. 

All students have strengths and these should be built upon as well.  Insuring consideration of these strengths is just one important contribution parents make to the educational planning team. 

Within the overall context of individualization, and recognizing the uniqueness of each student, there are some programming suggestions that can serve as a guide to making the learning environment best for the student with an autism spectrum disorder.

Is there some technology that can help my student learn?

Assistive technology is a related service listed in IDEA.  Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities.  Check out the TechMatrix for suggestions for finding educational and assistive technology products for students with disabilities. Learn more on our Assistive Technology webpage.

Where can I find support? 

With the high numbers of children diagnosed with autism, the good news is there is support around the state of Michigan,  in person and online.

Other useful links/ Additional organizations related to autism spectrum disorders

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