Different types of autism spectrum disorders

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Different types of autism spectrum disorders

When we think about the term autism spectrum disorders, what we are really talking about is three distinct disorders. The first is autistic disorder, which is when the individual has problems with their communication, with their social skills, and behaviors that are repetitive or idiosyncratic or excessive. The second diagnosis that would fall under that umbrella is asperger´s disorder. People with asperger´s disorder have problems with their social skills. They have problems with their behaviors but they don´t have any delay in their language acquisition the way that someone who has autistic disorder might. People with asperger´s disorder also have appropriate activities of daily living or adaptive skills. So what that means is that they are on target chronologically in terms of dressing, grooming, toileting, sort of taking care of themselves. The third diagnosis that falls under this umbrella is called pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified or PDDNOS. PDDNOS means that you have symptoms of autism but you don´t quite have enough to meet the full criteria for asperger´s disorder or austistic disorder.

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Allison Kawa, PsyD

Child Psychologist

Alison Kawa is a licensed child psychologist specializing in the evaluation of children and adolescents.  Her pre- and post-doctoral training emphasized child and adolescent testing.  She was a fellow in the UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic where she acquired extensive training in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and a range of other developmental disorders.  During this time, she also obtained certification from the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC) on the gold standard instruments (i.e., ADI-R and ADOS) used in autism evaluations.  Following her fellowship, she became Senior Assessor at UCLA where she worked for four years.

Alison completed the PsychoEducational Diagnostic Services Program (PEDS) Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Assessment at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar.  In this setting, she conducted comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations for children and adolescents with a diverse range of issues including ADHD, Learning Disabilities, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders.  She also completed the Child Therapy in a School Setting program offered by Phillips Graduate Institute, where she gained training and experience in play therapy, social skills groups, and therapeutic interventions appropriate for adolescents. 

While completing her graduate training in psychology, she held a staff position at Working With Autism, Inc., where she worked individually with children with autism, provided case management and supervision, and developed and implemented a staff-training curriculum.  It was through this position that she acquired a love for teaching and training. In addition to her private practice, she teaches pre- and post-doctoral fellows at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar, where she also works as a supervisor and consultant.

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