What is Autism?
An Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a developmental condition that significantly influences a person’s ability to interact with others and the world around them. Social skills, language development and the ability to spontaneously learn social norms are all impacted.
Due to the wide spectrum and because every child is unique, children with ASD all look a little different.
Some common symptoms are:
•communication difficulty developing speech, making appropriate eye contact and facial expressions, having conversations and understanding non-literal language
•socialization difficulty making friends, understanding other’s point of view, limited enjoyment and awareness in social interactions, a lack of pretend or make believe play
•restricted or repetitive behaviors difficulty with changes to routine, intense interests or fixations, rigid thinking, repetitive motor movements, sensory processing differences
Children with an ASD may also have other conditions effecting their behavior, like a cognitive impairment, a language disorder or anxiety.
The Center for Disease Control has estimated one in every 88 children in the United States has an ASD, making it the fastest growing disability today. Autism is a life-long disorder. While experts do not agree on a cause or singular effective treatment, it is treatable. People with autism can make significant progress through therapy, and can lead meaningful and productive lives. Everyone agrees that early diagnosis and treatment is very important to help all children reach their full potential!
Regional Medical & Autism Diagnostic Clinic
For families concerned about their child’s development our diagnostic team provides a series of thorough evaluations carefully chosen to provide a comprehensive picture of each child. The diagnosis of developmental concerns, including Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), is a complex process. Easterseals uses the gold standard method of diagnosis recognized by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Our clinic is uniquely designed to meet the needs of children and families:
•We provide at least eight hours of intensive one on one evaluations spaced out over four different days so we get more than just a “one time snapshot” of child’s abilities
•We have an Autism Coordinator who is the point of contact throughout the entire process, so families always know who to call with a question
•We have a pediatrician as part of our team so the child receives a medical diagnosis
•The entire team meets with the family to explain the diagnosis and recommendations
•We provide follow up services through our Medical Consult Clinic, family support services and outpatient rehab therapies
Every child receives the following services as part of the Diagnostic Clinic:
Family Interview and Records Review
A caregiver will meet with a team member to complete an intensive social and developmental history. All records provided will be reviewed and consultations with current therapists, medical persons and school staff are available at the family’s request.
Occupational Therapy Evaluation
An evaluation with a licensed occupational therapist to assess fine motor skills and sensory processing skills. The therapist will use a combination of standardized measurement tools, clinical observation, and parent report to assess the child.
An evaluation with a licensed speech pathologist to assess the child’s speech, language and social use of language. The pathologist will use a combination of standardized measurement tools, clinical observation, and parent report to assess the child.
Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)
A meeting with a licensed professional certified in completing the ADOS, a standardized observation of social behavior and communication that allows one to observe behaviors that have been identified as important to the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
A non-verbal standardized cognitive evaluation will be administered by a licensed clinical social worker or a play based cognitive assessment will be completed by a developmental therapist to determine the child’s developmental age.
Physician Specialist Consult and Team Diagnosis
A medical examination and complete medical history with a board certified pediatrician who has experience in the diagnosis and treatment of children with behavioral and developmental concerns. A team meeting follows for diagnosis and recommendations.
Autism Services at Easterseals Treatment:
Easterseals has licensed speech/ language pathologists that are trained in providing treatment to children with ASDs. Therapy is tailored to meet each child's communication needs from requesting and following directions to using visual supports or words to communicate.
Treatment for children with feeding concerns with a focus on teaching children to be comfortable interacting and ultimately eating a variety of tastes and textures within each food group. Group or individual therapy is provided by an occupational therapist and a speech language pathologist.
Developmental Therapy Groups (18 months - 3 years)
Taught by credentialed developmental therapists with extensive training in working with children with ASDs. Groups give children an opportunity to learn pre-readiness skills necessary for preschool or an early childhood classroom.
Easterseals has licensed occupational therapists that have experience and training in providing treatment to children with ASDs. Therapy can focus on development of sensory processing and fine motor skills.
Social Skills Groups (4 years and older)
Run by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, these groups focus on allowing children with ASDs to work together in a structured setting to develop social skills appropriate to their developmental level. Skills worked on could be making appropriate eye contact, saying hello to peers and having a conversation.
Easterseals Joliet Region has a licensed inclusive childcare program that accepts children from ages six weeks through three years old. Children at all levels of development are welcome!
Parents Raising Children with ASDs
This support group is designed to get parents together so they can share the good and the bad, pass on advice and get ideas from other parents. Free childcare is available during the meeting.
These fun workshops are for kids that have siblings with special needs. Held periodically throughout the year, it’s an action packed afternoon that focuses on all of the great and not so great things about being a sib. Through unique crafts and silly games we let every kid know: we think sibs are special too!
The Family Center for Autism Resources
A lending library for all things related to ASDs. We have books and videos on a wide variety of topics, games for every developmental level and therapeutic tools parents can borrow before making an expensive purchase. Free to parents and community members!
Parent Educational Workshops
Workshops are offered throughout the year covering a wide range of topics and guest speakers. Some popular issues covered are introductory to Autism, IEPs and parent’s rights at school, sensory processing and feeding concerns.
Resource and Referral Consults
Our Autism Coordinator is available for phone consultation to help identify your needs and make referrals to a wide range of local resources. Whatever you might be looking for, we can help get you started.
Easterseals Joliet Region is a non-profit agency committed to serving families.
Many of our services can be billed through insurance, Medicaid or Early Intervention.
Please contact the Autism Coordinator for more information at 815-725-2194.