April is National Autism Awareness MonthTexas Children's Health Plan
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Individuals with autism have difficulty interacting with others: building relationships, using language, regulating their emotions, and understanding others’ points of view. The reported prevalence of ASD has been higher in recent years, and this trend is consistent across data sources.
- About 1 in 54 children were identified with autism spectrum disorder among a 2016 sample of 8 year olds from 11 US communities in CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
- Boys are more than 4 times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls.
- Among children identified with ASD who had IQ scores available, one-third (33%) also had intellectual disability.
Individuals with autism thrive on routine and structure. With most of the world being under quarantine orders, individuals with autism are faced with a different type of challenge, as their normal routines have inadvertently changed. In addition to changes to their normal routine, the autism community may have concerns about increased exposure to COVID-19, skill regression, medication availability, autism treatments and other areas of concern. This month we highlight autism to spread awareness, promote acceptance and ignite change.
Suggestions for Parents During Quarantine
- Develop a new routine –Try to mirror this routine to previous school and home routines.
- Exercise – Incorporate exercise. Play in the backyard, or play a round of hide and seek in the home. Browse the internet for at-home exercise videos and dances for kids.
- Free time – We all need a break away to just relax or do something that we prefer to do. While kids with autism may have difficulty with unstructured time, try to incorporate a bit of free time into their daily routine. This gives them the option to do something that they’re sure to enjoy.
- Reward positive behaviors – Ensure that you give rewards for positive behaviors and learning new skills, based on age.
- Create a visual schedule – Create a large visual schedule that can easily be viewed at a glance. The schedule will help ensure that everyone is on track with where they need to be at all times.
Parent and Provider Resources:
- Texas Children’s Health Plan offers accredited parent training seminars on a variety of topics for parents of STAR Kids. Topics include caring for children with ADHD or Autism, navigating special education opportunities and services, and advocating for children with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Parents may attend any accredited seminar.
- Transitions Tool Kit – Utilize a transitions tool kit to help make transitions less stressful for children with autism.
- National Autism Center – Resources for Practitioners
- Autism Speaks Provider Resources
- Applied Behavioral Analysis for Autism in Texas
For National Autism month, we wear blue! Tag #TCHP on social media when you wear blue for National Autism Awareness Month.