Autism (ASD) Is Different for Everyone If you've met one person with Autism, you've met one person with Autism ~ Dr. Stephen Shore.
- Some individuals with ASD seem disengaged, disinterested, or in a world of their own, while others do not.
- Some, but not all, individuals with ASD may avoid eye contact, don't automatically respond when spoken to, or tend not to initiate or enjoy small talk.
- Sometimes there are patterns of repetitive behaviours or frequent intrusive, obsessive, or recurrent thoughts and "overthinking" of events.
- There is often an avoidance or discomfort with physical contact (sitting close by), being touched (on the head, holding hands), or being hugged.
- It is not uncommon to have a history of difficulty "fitting in" socially, feeling "weird" but not knowing why, or diffculty making friends with peers the same age.
- Loud noises, eating sounds, fabric textures, bright lights, strong smells, or crowded situations may cause anxiety or discomfort.
- Becoming socially overwhelmed, exhausted, or overstimulated with sensory input is common, as the need to withdraw to a quiet place or to leave.
- There is often a history of difficulty recognizing or reading non-verbal cues, picking up social inferences, reading between the lines or changing routines.
- It is not uncommon to have a history of being "rule bound" or rigid with routines, in addition to difficulties "letting go" of an idea or opinion and not being readily willing to accept anothers' suggestions.
- Having to "recover" after attending demanding social events, family events, and school/work events is common, due to the high level of emotional stress and mental energy required to "mask" oneself to prepare for the situation, to try to fit in, read the room and people constantly, and work on presenting as "normal" and "socially interested" to others.
Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD] is a Neurodevelopmental Disorder affecting all genders, often characterized by difficulties communicating and interacting with others, varying degrees of obsessive thoughts or repetitive behaviours, more linear thinking and being factually oriented vs. abstract thinking, and generalized feelings of a social and emotional “disconnect” with the everyday world and people.
Depending on how an individual is communicating and interacting, an Autism diagnosis can be pursued as young as two years old however it is not uncommon for adults to seek a diagnosis for their own clarification and understanding, mainly if they, or their family/friends/colleagues, have brought behaviours to their attention, or they identify similar symptoms in themselves, siblings, or their children.
With over 20 years of experience in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, including Level 1 Autism, we are very aware of the different presentations, characteristics, features, struggles and difficulties people of different genders with ASD experience throughout their lifetimes. It is critical for effective diagnoses and therapy to make sure your neuropsychologist, psychologist, therapist or clinician has the professional training, advanced education and clinical expertise in Level 1 Autism to competently understand, identify and provide the highest level of support and therapy for your individual needs.
A Licensed Neuropsychologist at Toronto Neurodevelopmental Centre will direct and supervise the evaluation and work with dedicated, highly experienced therapists to provide clarification of your diagnosis, assess for other potential neurodevelopmental disorders and provide personalized strategies to best manage behaviour and navigate the world and daily expectations with as minimal stress as possible while embracing individual strengths of having a diagnosis of Level 1 ASD.
Autism awareness is at an all-time high, widely discussed by the Medical and Neuropsychological communities, media outlets, concerned parents and society in general. While Autism may appear to be more widespread today than decades ago, experts believe the increase in diagnoses is due to greater awareness of Autism and its very wide spectrum of potential behaviours and symptoms.
A person with ASD often has difficulty making or maintaing friendships, or getting along easily with classmates, peers, family members, partners/spouses or colleagues. Repetitive, obsessive or ritualistic behaviours associated with ASD can also interfere with completing normal routines or tasks within time limits throughout daily lives.
We understand how ASD/Aspergers often presents differently in men and women, with unique struggles and social difficulties
We are particularly proud to have successfully worked with many young women with ASD, who until recent years have often been misdiagnosed, misunderstood, and become unnecessary discouraged and frustrated in their academic and career pursuits.
While each individual has their own unique presentation and concerns, frequent behavioural symptoms may include:
- Difficulty with or lack of interest in starting, having to rehearse and pretend to enjoy or participate in "small talk"
- Often told they are very literal with a concrete "black and white" interpretation of language
- Difficulty understanding sarcasam or reading "between the lines"
- Highly sensitive to being around loud sounds, strong smells, feeling certain clothing textures, and avoidance of certain foods
- Need for routine in daily activities, comfort with "sameness", uncomfortable with change
- Can be rigid with plans or procedures, or demonstrate rule-bound behaviour
- Easily overwhelmed with stress from high expectations for self and others
- Hyper focussed (sometimes at the expense of school or work assignments) on particular hobbies, topics, mining facts or "rabbit holing" extensive volumes of often unnecessary details
- High frequency of gender diversities and neuro differences (ADHD, OCD, Anxiety)
- Tendency to demonstrate limited interest in physical touching/contact, prefer to keep to self
- Need for "alone time" to recentre or regroup away from other people or partners
In our clinic, our highly experienced team of a Clinical Neuropsychologist, Psychological Asociate and extensively trained Clinicians are dedicated to providing Comprehensive and Standardized evaluations for Level One Autism/Aspergers, and once a diagnosis is confirmed, will discuss with you a practical and workable therapy plan.
You or your child’s individual plan may include: addressing social skill weaknesses, developing coping methods for anxiety, getting "unstuck" after becoming overwhelmed with school, college, or university and needing support to get back on track, symptom management, and a comprehensive series of individualized recommendations for beneficial learning supports, academic accommodations, program changes or transfers, help accessing student services and support, help with personal, partner and family relationship interactions as well strategies to improve workplace success and coworker or peer relations.
Help is available to identify work/business/education related sensory and social concerns, particularly with the newly added stress of returning to a busy, often noisey work/school environment which may present with frequent interruptions, anticipation anxiety regarding preparing to travel to and from school/work, and the everyday social expections of being among peers and colleagues.
Letters reporting diagnoses, required/preferred modifications/accomodations to the school/work environments, and/or justification for working or studying from home, based on for example, individual sensory sensitivies and anxieties, can be prepared if reqested.
There may also be Provincial Funding available for diagnostic assessment and therapy, if diagnostic criteria is met.
Please contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss an evaluation of ASD (Level 1/Asperger) for your child, adolescent or yourself.