Navigating Autism Through Childhood Years

Available with English captions and subtitles in Chinese, Hindi, and Spanish.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a very common developmental disability, impacting one in 54 children. What is true for one child with autism may not be true for another, as the spectrum varies in its severity. While it is a lifelong condition, its social, communicative, and behavioral challenges—and needs—may vary as time progresses.

Audience Questions

Laura Mead provides examples of signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders in kids and teens, shares ways to support the needs of our loved ones as they get older, and answers questions about how we can improve quality of life for both children and teens with ASD as well as their caretakers.

  • What are autism spectrum disorders?
  • What are some of the common signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders? Do these change as children get older?
  • Does the diagnostic process look different for kids versus teens versus adolescents?
  • Can the severity of ASD change after therapy?
  • Similar to your point of not requiring eye contact or teaching math and English with references to trains, what are some ways we can support and accept ASD characteristics?
  • How can parents or caretakers explain spectrum disorders to loved ones? Does this language for an explanation differ depending on their age?
  • Do you have advice around explaining a diagnosis to your child without labeling them? At what age this is appropriate to do?
  • How can parents or caregivers make sure that they’re taking care of themselves while caring for their loved ones—especially if they need continuous care?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


About Laura D. Mead

Laura D. Mead, MSEd, MBA, a teacher and administrator with 20 years of experience in special education, is currently the educational administrator at Pathways Academy, McLean Hospital’s school for students on the autism spectrum, with and without co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses.

Ms. Mead’s background is in psychology, education, and art. She has taught elementary and middle school special education to students with social-emotional and behavioral challenges in both private and public school settings. Her interests lie in building students’ self-esteem within the therapeutic learning environment.

Learn more about Laura D. Mead.

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Originally aired on May 17, 2022