Autism Spectrum Disorder/Asperger’s

Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder at Pasadena Villa Outpatient Center – Raleigh

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of complex developmental disorders that includes a wide range of difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. Individuals with ASD often have delayed development of basic skills, such as the ability to socialize, communicate and develop independent living skills.

Genetics and the environment are thought to play an important role in the development of ASD, although an exact cause is unknown. Diagnosis of ASD is typically in younger children between the ages of two and six using complete medical history, physicals, and psychiatric, neurological exams. Although the diagnosis is based on the development level, speech, and behavior, there are no physical medical tests available for diagnosis.

For adults, diagnosis of ASD is challenging as symptoms will often overlap with other mental health conditions such as schizophrenia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There have been advancements in psychological screening and testing in adults that includes a mix of nonverbal and verbal tests, verbal comprehension measurements, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and process speed.

What are the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The National Institute of Mental Health cites two types of main behaviors in the symptoms of ASD. Individuals with ASD will have several of the behaviors, but may not have all.

Restrictive/repetitive actions may include:

  • Repeating certain actions or having unusual behaviors
  • Having overly focused interests, such as moving objects or parts of objects
  • Having a constant, intense interest in certain areas of interest

Social communication/interaction behaviors may include:

  • Getting upset by a slight change in a routine or being in a new or overly stimulating setting
  • Making little or inconsistent eye contact
  • Tending to look at and listen to people less often
  • Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
  • Responding in an unusual way when others show anger, distress, or affection
  • Failing or being slow to respond to someone calling their name or other verbal attempts
  • Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversations
  • Talking at length about favorite subjects without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond
  • Repeating words or phrases that they hear, a behavior called echolalia
  • Using words that seem odd, out of place, or have a special meaning known only to those familiar with that person’s way of communicating
  • Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said
  • Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like
  • Having trouble understanding another person’s point of view or being unable to predict or understand other people’s actions.

How is Autism Spectrum Disorder treated at Pasadena Villa Outpatient Center – Raleigh?

At Pasadena Villa Outpatient, we customize a treatment plan that meets the individual’s unique issues and behaviors. The presentation and needs of those with an ASD can vary significantly, impacting the recovery. For example, the testing of medications used to treat ASD is lacking; we closely monitor our clients on psychotropics for any side effects and assess the quality of the response to the medication.

After the initial assessment phase, the treatment team consults and collaborates with the individual and their family to determine the best approach to meet the client’s goals. Since ASD is a social disorder, increasing the social skills, focus on groups such as “Connections,” and leveraging the other group therapy for communication practice has proven helpful. At Pasadena Villa Outpatient Center, our therapists are available for brief 1:1 reflection with the client throughout the day to reinforce new skills. Our staff also observes the natural social interactions outside of the group setting and incorporates them into their work with clients. Our Social Integration ModelTM is reflected throughout the program, offering real life experiences that foster confidence and independence, such as shared meals with staff and clients. Before leaving the center, the treatment team presents options for providers experienced with ASD and other resources to continue to support their recovery.