My Son Has Low Functioning Autism, What Now?

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Having a child with autism can be very challenging, and it is even more so when he is in the low functioning end of the spectrum. People who are diagnosed with Level 3 Autism, like my son, will require all the support, love, and understanding that he can get from our family and me. The symptoms of his autism are very evident, and at most times, it affects his daily functioning. He has struggles being social, and have issues communicating both verbally and nonverbally. Because of this, his behavior can also be rigid.

But I didn’t lose hope. I know for a fact that there treatment programs available for my son and other children with this disorder. This is the reason why early intervention is essential, and the immediate implementation of the program is necessary.

What Is Low Functioning Autism?

There is low functioning autism and high functioning autism. The difference between the two disorders is the behavior of the individuals challenged by it. People with low functioning autism cannot function properly in their daily lives because of their disorder. They will have problems expressing themselves, communicating with other people, being social, and they will also have issues in managing their behavior.

How Is Low Functioning Autism Diagnosed?

For experts and specialists, they can diagnose ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder during a child’s early childhood years. Some can even diagnose ASD during infancy. How do they do it?

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There are guidelines in determining if a child has ASD. This is also why most kindergarten schools all over the world have psychometricians who observe the behavior of their learners. If they see signs of the disorder in a child, they will inform the parents and recommend for them to see a neurodevelopmental pediatrician for a proper diagnosis on their child.

Children with ASD are delayed in these neurodevelopmental abilities such as talking or communication, self-soothing, cognitive skills, and more. They will not be able to function properly, and they need physical assistance most of the time. Also, children with low functioning ASD will most likely have a correlating condition like epilepsy, or Fragile X syndrome.

Fragile X Syndrome And Low Functioning ASD

Researchers believe that ASD is genetically predisposed, which is why it is sometimes diagnosed together with another genetic condition called Fragile X Syndrome. The latter is a condition wherein the development of a child, mostly his learning abilities, are gravely affected. He will have delay issues with his speech and reading. The child will also manifest anxiety, hyperactivity, and low impulse control. Studies show that a third of the kids with ASD are suffering from Fragile X Syndrome.

Epilepsy And Low Functioning ASD

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It was assessed by Dr. Patrick Bolton and his team the relationship between epilepsy and ASD. They observed that 22% of the children with low functioning autism ASD also have epilepsy. The kids were having seizures at least once a week or every two weeks by the time they were ten years old up until they were eleven. These seizures were controlled by medication, and girls were more prone to having it than boys.

There are so many things to know about low functioning ASD. Next week, another blog about the topic will be discussed. Until then, good luck! See you next week!

Don’t Be Offended When Your Child’s Teachers Tell You That Your Child May Have ASD

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I remember that very day, five years ago, when the neurodevelopmental pediatrician told me that my son has ASD. It was September 9, 2014, and after waiting three months for the appointment, the doctor confirmed the suspicions of my son’s teachers; he has Autism Spectrum Disorder. I didn’t believe his teachers before when they told me that my son was displaying symptoms of ASD. He was “normal” for me and acting like a regular, active, and playful child. What I failed to see was that he had a condition and that he needed help.

The teachers in Kindergarten were telling me before that he was too hyperactive. He was also inattentive in class according to his playschool teacher and lacked focus too. His Nursery teacher said to me last time that whenever someone passed by their classroom, he would leave his seat or whatever activity he did and go outside to follow the person who caught his attention. For them, this wasn’t normal behavior.

Back then, I asked them, “So, what is normal?” They said that while they are teachers for toddlers, they are not experts in clinically ascertaining neurodevelopment delays or special needs learners. What they have is a course on seeing the signs and symptoms of behavioral disorders in children, and that is all.

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The school psychometrician, who has more knowledge on these matters, evaluated my son, and she also told me the same thing. “Ms. Carter, I recommend that you send Michael to a neurodevelopmental pediatrician for proper assessment and testing. With my specialization and studies, I believe, he has a developmental condition. As to the extent of that condition, or the levels of what he has at the moment, I cannot be sure. A doctor in that field will be able to provide the soundest medical assessment and diagnosis of Michael.” She handed me a list. “Here are the best neurodevelopmental pediatricians in the state. If you need help with the scheduling of appointments with Dr. Smith, tell me. I may be able to squeeze in Michael for an earlier meeting. He is my cousin, and that is if you want to go with him to Michael’s testing.”

Of course, I went with Dr. Smith since everyone in the school recommended him. And yes, I asked help from the psychometrician for a schedule, and so, the appointment which was supposed to be in 4 months was lessened to 3 months. That’s how jam-packed neurodevelopmental pediatricians were in our state.

I don’t mind the doctor telling me that my son has this autism disorder or this hyperactive behavior. That’s not my point at all – I don’t care about that. He can be a super and extremely hyperactive or lacking focus during class. My son is my son, and I love him. I will support and care for him, as long as he needs me to do it for him; even more when he can’t function as well as he can in this world, like how his teachers were telling me back then. I am his mother, and I will do anything for him.

And so, my son was assessed and no surprises there, he has ASD and luckily, one of the high functioning ones. He just needed treatment, which I submitted my son to go for the past five years.

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Is he better now? I believe that he is because his OT has told me that next week will be his last therapy session. His symptoms are getting less since he knows how to cope and manage it on his own. Therapy is not anymore necessary with him at this point.

As a mother, I feel that I have done the right thing with him, and I will continue to have his back because that’s just how it is with our family.