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Helping a Child with Level 3 Autism Succeed

Master how to help a child with Level 3 Autism thrive through early intervention, therapies, and support.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
March 6, 2024
11 min read
min read

Understanding Level 3 Autism

As part of the broader autism spectrum, Level 3 Autism represents one of the more severe classifications of the disorder. Recognizing and understanding this level of autism is crucial to ensuring effective support and care for those affected.

Defining Level 3 Autism

Level 3 Autism, often referred to as 'severe' autism, is characterized by significant language delays, social challenges, and unusual behaviors. These behaviors, which may include repetitive actions or narrow interests, are severe enough to interfere with daily activities.

Children diagnosed with Level 3 Autism often require intensive, round-the-clock support due to the severity of their symptoms. This support encompasses assistance with day-to-day activities, communication, and behavior management.

Common Challenges for Level 3 Autism

For children with Level 3 Autism, the development of communication and social skills can prove significantly challenging. These children are often non-verbal, unable to utilize spoken language when interacting with others, and may even be unaware of the presence of other people around them [3].

In addition, most children with Level 3 Autism exhibit self-stimulatory and repetitive behaviors. These can include actions such as moaning, flapping, door slamming, or violent rocking, which can potentially be extreme and hard to manage [3].

Furthermore, these children may exhibit extreme maladaptive behaviors resulting from sensory overload, frustration, or physical pain. Such behaviors can often lead to self-injury or harmful actions towards others, presenting additional challenges for their care and support [3].

Understanding these common challenges is a crucial first step in determining how to help a child with Level 3 Autism. With the right interventions and a supportive environment, children with Level 3 Autism can be empowered to learn and grow.

Therapeutic Interventions for Level 3 Autism

Therapeutic interventions form a crucial part of managing and improving the quality of life for a child with level 3 autism. These interventions include early intervention programs, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, and occupational and speech therapy.

The Role of Early Intervention

Early intervention plays a significant role in helping children with level 3 autism. Programs such as the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) and the Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) are specifically designed for children with severe autism. They have been found effective in improving social, communication, and cognitive skills.

Early intervention services can also help children with level 3 autism maximize their learning potential. These services may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills training.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is another therapeutic approach that has shown effectiveness in addressing behaviors and social skills in children with severe autism [4].

ABA is an evidence-based therapy recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Research Council. It can help children with autism improve their social, communication, and learning skills.

Behavior therapies such as ABA, and certain medications, when prescribed by healthcare providers, can be beneficial in addressing behavioral challenges and enhancing adaptive skills in children with level 3 autism. These interventions aim to reduce problem behaviors, increase communication and social skills, and improve overall quality of life for the child and their family.

Occupational and Speech Therapy

Occupational therapy and speech therapy are also important interventions for children with level 3 autism. Occupational therapy helps teach or improve everyday skills for individuals with autism. It involves working directly with a person in a customized program.

Speech-language therapy can assist children with level 3 autism in improving both verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Therapists can also teach helpful skills to family members and caregivers.

These therapies focus on developing essential skills that enable the child to engage more effectively in daily activities and navigate their environment with greater ease.

Caregivers of individuals with autism can also receive training to better support the individual, which may include helpful strategies and techniques.

It is essential to work closely with healthcare providers and specialists to create an individualized treatment plan tailored to the child's unique needs, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills training.

Managing Sensory Issues in Level 3 Autism

Managing sensory issues is an integral part of helping a child with level 3 autism. Many children with this diagnosis have sensory dysfunction, which can make them sensitive or non-sensitive to light, sound, touch, smell, and taste. This section will discuss strategies for dealing with sensory dysfunction and creating a soothing environment for children with level 3 autism.

Dealing with Sensory Dysfunction

Children with level 3 autism often find bright, crowded, or noisy environments overwhelming due to their sensory dysfunction. This sensitivity can also contribute to challenges in developing communication and social skills, as these children may be non-verbal or unaware of people around them.

Furthermore, many children with level 3 autism exhibit self-stimulatory and repetitive behaviors, which can be potentially extreme and difficult to manage. These behaviors may include moaning, flapping, door slamming, or violent rocking.

In extreme cases, sensory overload, frustration, or physical pain can lead to maladaptive behaviors, including self-injury or harmful actions towards others. Strategies to manage sensory dysfunction can include a combination of environmental modifications, therapeutic interventions, and learning coping mechanisms.

Creating a Soothing Environment

Creating a soothing and comfortable environment is crucial in managing sensory sensitivities in children with level 3 autism. Such an environment can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of safety for the child.

Here are a few strategies to create a soothing environment:

  • Lighting: Use soft and warm lighting instead of bright, harsh lights. Consider using dimmer switches or lamps with adjustable brightness.
  • Noise: Minimize loud or sudden noises in the child's environment. White noise machines or soft music can help drown out disturbing sounds.
  • Space: Ensure the child has access to a quiet, private space where they can retreat when feeling overwhelmed.
  • Colors: Use calming colors in the child's environment. Cool tones like blues, greens, and purples are often soothing.
  • Textures: Incorporate different textures that the child finds comforting. This can include soft blankets, squishy toys, or smooth surfaces.

Remember, every child with level 3 autism is unique and may have different sensory preferences. It's important to observe the child's reactions to different stimuli and adapt the environment accordingly. By managing sensory dysfunction and creating a soothing environment, we can provide effective support for children with level 3 autism.

Role of Medication in Managing Level 3 Autism

Medication is not a primary treatment for autism, but can play a role in managing associated symptoms and conditions. This section explores when medication may be necessary and the risks and benefits associated with it.

When Medication may be Necessary

In certain instances, medications may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms or associated conditions in children with severe autism. However, the decision to use medication should always be thoroughly discussed with a healthcare provider to understand the potential risks and benefits [6].

It should be noted that there are no autism treatments involving medications approved by Health Canada. However, some individuals may use medications to treat co-occurring conditions under the guidance of a physician.

Risks and Benefits of Medication

The use of medication in managing level 3 autism should be considered carefully, due to the potential risks and benefits associated. The risk of side effects, possible interactions with other medications, and the child's overall health status are all factors that need to be considered. As such, a healthcare provider should always be consulted for a thorough discussion about the potential risks and benefits of medication use [3].

The benefits of medication in managing level 3 autism can include improved management of associated symptoms and conditions. These can range from reducing problem behaviors to increasing communication and social skills, thereby improving the overall quality of life for the child and their family.

However, the risks of medication use can include potential side effects, the possibility of developing a dependence, and the risk of interactions with other medications or health conditions. Therefore, it's important to weigh these risks against the potential benefits, under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

In summary, while medication is not a primary treatment for level 3 autism, it can play a role in managing associated symptoms and conditions. The decision to use medication should always be made in consultation with a healthcare provider, considering the specific needs and circumstances of the child.

The Importance of Support Systems

In the journey of assisting a child with level 3 autism, having a robust support system can play a pivotal role. This support system often includes support groups and family members, actively involved in therapy.

Benefits of Joining Support Groups

Support groups provide a platform for parents of children with level 3 autism to connect, share experiences, and learn from each other. They can be a source of comfort, offering a sense of community to parents who may otherwise feel isolated or overwhelmed. Parents can share strategies, resources, and coping mechanisms, which can be incredibly beneficial in navigating the challenges that come with level 3 autism.

Moreover, support groups can also provide valuable information about local or national autism organizations, advocacy groups, and resources that can aid in managing autism. The shared knowledge and experiences can provide guidance and encouragement, helping parents feel more confident and capable in their efforts to support their child with autism [5].

Involvement of Family in Therapy

Family involvement in therapy is critical when managing level 3 autism. The challenges faced by children with this level of autism can vary widely, necessitating a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach. Therefore, collaboration between parents, educators, therapists, and healthcare providers is essential. This team can create tailored interventions specific to the child's needs, fostering optimal outcomes in their development and well-being [6].

Involving family members in therapy also helps create an environment that encourages uniqueness and individuality among youth with autism. This kind of environment appreciates them for who they are, fostering a place where everyone feels welcomed, included, and represented [8].

While children with level 3 autism may require significant support, each child is unique, and acknowledging their strengths and building on them is crucial. Family involvement in therapy helps nurture these strengths, aiding in the child's growth and development.

Individualized Education Plans for Level 3 Autism

To facilitate learning for children with level 3 autism, it's important to create a learning environment that caters specifically to their needs. This is where Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) come into play.

The Need for Customized Learning

Children with level 3 autism have unique learning needs that often cannot be met by traditional educational methods. They may struggle with communication, social interactions, and behavioral control, and these challenges can significantly impact their ability to learn in a typical classroom setting. It's important, therefore, to customize their learning experiences to address these specific challenges and promote their overall development.

One of the ways to achieve this is through the creation and implementation of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). These plans are designed to provide a customized learning environment for children with level 3 autism, taking into account their specific goals, accommodations, and support strategies needed to meet their unique needs [1].

Development and Implementation of IEPs

The process of developing and implementing an IEP involves collaboration between the student, caregivers, and educators. Together, they identify the specific needs of the child and create a support plan that addresses these needs.

The IEP outlines personalized goals for the child, focusing on areas such as academic achievement, social interactions, communication skills, and behavioral control. It also specifies the accommodations and modifications necessary in the classroom to help the child achieve these goals. For example, a child might require additional time during tests, a quiet workspace, or the use of specific communication aids.

In addition to specifying these accommodations and modifications, the IEP also outlines the specific strategies that will be used to support the child. These might include one-on-one instruction, the use of visual aids, or the incorporation of specific behavioral interventions.

Once the IEP is developed, it's implemented in the classroom with regular monitoring and adjustments as needed. This ensures that the plan continues to meet the child's needs as they grow and develop.

The development and implementation of IEPs are crucial in providing customized learning for children with level 3 autism. With the right support and accommodations in place, these children can thrive in a learning environment tailored to their unique needs. The active involvement of caregivers and educators in this process is key to the success of the IEP and the child's overall academic and social development.

Financial Support for Level 3 Autism

Managing and providing care for a child with level 3 autism can be financially challenging due to the high costs associated with therapies, interventions, and specialized education plans. However, there are various financial aids available that can help alleviate these costs and provide the necessary support for these children to thrive.

Overview of Financial Aids

Financial aids for autism involve various forms of assistance, including government programs, private insurance, grants, and scholarships. These aids can be used to cover a wide range of expenses, including therapy sessions, special education programs, medical consultations, and adaptive equipment.

The specific amount and type of financial aid available can vary greatly depending on the child's individual needs, the region, and the specific program or plan. In some cases, families may need to meet certain income thresholds or other eligibility requirements to qualify for certain types of aid.

It's worth noting that navigating the landscape of autism-related financial aids can be complex and time-consuming, due to the variety of options and the specific requirements of each program. Therefore, it's highly recommended for families to seek guidance from financial advisors, social workers, or autism support organizations to understand the best options for their situation and how to apply for the necessary aid.

Region-Specific Financial Support

Financial support for autism can greatly vary by region. In Canada, for instance, each province and territory decides how to fund autism-related support services, leading to significant variation in services and funding across the country.

In British Columbia, the Autism Funding Program provides up to $22,000 per year for children under the age of 6 diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This funding is intended for interventions to improve a child's functioning and future outcomes and can be spent on eligible expenses, including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI) therapies. From the child's 6th birthday to their 19th, they remain eligible for provincial funding, albeit at a reduced amount of up to $6,000 per year. This funding can be used for a broader range of supports and services, including life skills and social skills programs.

Meanwhile, in Alberta, the Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) program provides funding for children and youth under the age of 18 with developmental, physical, sensory, mental, or neurological conditions or impairments. The funding is needs-based and varies depending on the unique needs of each family and child.

In conclusion, understanding the financial aids available and how to access them is crucial in managing level 3 autism. It helps ensure that children receive the necessary support and interventions, thereby improving their quality of life and future outcomes.

References

[1]: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/autism-learning-disabilities/helping-your-child-with-autism-thrive.htm

[2]: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/autism-learning-disabilities/autism-treatments-therapies-interventions.htm

[3]: https://www.songbirdcare.com/articles/level-3-autism

[4]: https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-severe-autism-260044

[5]: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html

[6]: https://theplaceforchildrenwithautism.com/diagnosing-autism/the-three-levels-of-autism

[7]: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/autism-spectrum-disorder-asd/support-autism-spectrum-disorder-asd.html

[8]: https://www.kit.org/how-to-create-a-safe-space-for-kids-with-autism-in-your-program/

[9]: https://aidecanada.ca/resources/learn/financial/under-18-supports

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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