About Us - FAQ

Rich Center for Autism - FAQ

  • What is Autism?

    Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. Autism is a spectrum disorder and it affects each individual differently and at varying degrees.

  • What are the characteristics of Autism?

    Every person with autism is an individual, and like all individuals, has a unique personality and combination of characteristics. Some individuals mildly affected may exhibit only slight delays in language and greater challenges with social interactions. They may have difficulty initiating and/or maintaining a conversation. Their communication is often described as talking at others instead of to them. People with autism also process and respond to information in unique ways. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present. Persons with autism may also exhibit some of the following traits:

    • Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
    • Difficulty in expressing needs, using gestures or pointing instead of words
    • Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
    • Laughing (and/or crying) for no apparent reason; showing distress for reasons not apparent to other
    • Preference to being alone; aloof manner
    • Tantrums
    • Difficulty in mixing with others
    • Not wanting to cuddle or be cuddled
    • Little or no eye contact
    • Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
    • Sustained odd play
    • Spinning objects
    • Obsessive attachment to objects
    • Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
    • No real fears of danger
    • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
    • Uneven gross/fine motor skills
    • Non-responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf, although hearing tests in normal range
  • What do people mean when they say "My child is on the spectrum?"

    Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means it manifests itself in many different forms. A diagnosis can range from mild to severe, and though children who have it (i.e. are on the spectrum) are likely to exhibit similar traits, they are also as individual as the colors of a rainbow, each one managing a grab bag of symptoms. While one child may rarely speak and have difficulty learning how to read and write, another is able to attend classes in inclusion classrooms. Yet another child may be so sensitive to the feel of fabric that all tags must be cut off before he wears a piece of clothing, while his friend who's also autistic may not have any sensory issues at all.

  • What do I do once my child is diagnosed?

    Contact your local school district and let them know that you have a child with a disability. They will schedule an assessment that will include a school psychology evaluation, speech and occupational therapy evaluation and, if needed, a physical therapy evaluation. The purpose of this school-based assessment is to determine if your child requires special education services in the school setting. Once the assessment is complete, the school district will contact you to schedule a meeting to go over the results. The summary of this meeting is contained in a document called the Evaluation Team Report (ETR). The results of these evaluations will also generate goals for your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) for his or her educational services.

  • How do I cope with this diagnosis?

    First, be kind to yourself. It's not easy to recover from the shock of learning your child has a developmental disorder that has no known cause or cure. Accept all feelings the diagnosis may elicit, and try not to blame yourself. It would have been impossible for you to figure out a way to shield your child from autism completely. The next step is to arm yourself with all the facts about the disorder. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more capable you will feel advocating for your child. That said, it is also important to give yourself a “break” from autism when it becomes too overwhelming. And if you find that the diagnosis has been so crippling that you have been unable to get past it, consider talking to a counselor or therapist.