Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism and Asperger's syndrome are kinds of 'Autism Spectrum Disorder' (or ASD). It is called a 'spectrum' because there is no exact distinction between Autism and Asperger's syndrome, and there is also no sharp line between Autism and normality, as many 'normal' people have some autistic traits that may or may not cause problems for them..
I do not really think of Autism as a disorder but more as part of the range of diversity of human minds - what some people call 'neurodiversity'. Many people with Autism lead normal and happy lives, but some people with Autism have enormous difficulty coping with social demands and managing their sensory sensitivities, and this can lead to mental health problems.
A particular kind of autism spectrum disorder is 'Pathological Demand Avoidance'. PDA describes children and adults who are on the autistic spectrum but may have social skills which may seem to be quite good. People with PDA have an extreme need to be in control and to avoid other people's demands and expectations. Thus can cause major problems with 'bad behaviour' in children, or inability to cope with school or work in teenagers and adults.
The diagnosis is usually made by a paediatrician or a child psychiatrist. The diagnosis may include other assessments by a psychologist, a speech pathologist or an occupational therapist. The diagnosis is based on certain abnormalities in early childhood development, speech and language abnormalities, difficulties with social relationships and communication, narrow and restricted interests, problems coping with change, and sensory sensitivities.
Because it isn't really a 'disorder', there is no specific 'treatment'. But people with ASD often have problems with depression, anxiety and anger, and they can benefit from treatment for these problems.
Anxiety can be due to the stress of coping with social relationships, or because of too much change and unpredictability their lives. Depression because of a sense of frustration, feeling a failure because they can't fit in and succeed in life. Small children with ASD can have problems with extreme anger and aggression (or 'meltdowns'). This can be due to anxiety, or sensory overload, or some other distress that they can't communicate (like physical pain).
Psychological treatment can help with anxiety, depression, anger management and social skills. A psychologist can also help parents in finding the best way to manage and support younger children with ASD.
An OT can be helpful in identifying sensory sensitivities and finding sensory interventions which might help with managing stress and anxiety.
It is essential for schools to make adaptations for a young person with ASD, to help them learn effectively and help them cope with stress in the classroom.
A psychiatrist can help with medication to help with anxiety, depression or extreme anger problems.
Autism Queensland provides information and services to parents of children with Autism
Synapse - Reconnecting Lives - is a good general resource on Autism
Wrong Planet is a site by people with Autism, for people with Autism, and includes useful online Forums
Thinking Person's Guide to Autism - check out their great 'resources' tab
raisingchildren.net information for parents of children with Autism and ASD
You might find Tony Attwood's site helpful. He has also written some useful books for parents and professionals.
Here is a collection of articles by people with Autism
Temple Grandin's website. Dr Grandin has Autism and has written several books on the subject.
The PDA Society website provides comprehensive information on Pathological Demand Avoidance
'The Explosive Child: A new approach for understanding and parenting easily frustrated, chronically inflexible children' by Ross Greene
'No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-Of-Control Behavior' by Jed Baker
'Managing Meltdowns' by Lipsky and Richards
'Understanding Pathological demand Avoidance Syndrome in Children: A Guide for Parents, Teachers and Other Professionals', by Margaret Duncan and Phil Christie
'The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-so-obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens With Asperger Syndrome' by Jennifer Cooke O'Toole
'The Aspie Teen's Survival Guide: Candid Advice for Teens, Tweens, and Parents, from a Young Man with Asperger's Syndrome' by JD Kraus
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
'What is Autism to you?'
'What is Autism to you?'