What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder It is recognized that autism is a spectrum, meaning that everyone has unique strengths and challenges.

People with autism have strengths and difficulties in different areas which affect their lives differently. No two people on the spectrum are alike. However, for someone to be diagnosed with autism, they will have a difficulty or delay in two main areas of functioning:

1. Communication and social interaction
2. Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour

I think my child may have Autism. What can I do?

A diagnosis is made based on behaviours. In order to be diagnosed with autism, your child must display deficits in social communication and social interaction, and show restrictive and repetitive behaviours. If your child is at school in the Cook Islands, express your concerns to their classroom teacher or school Principal. If you still have concerns after speaking to your school team, you can reach out to the Inclusive Education Adviser at the Cook Islands Ministry of Education.      schoolschool

Can an Autism diagnosis be made in the Cook Islands?

Unfortunately the answer is No.

We do not have a qualified clinicians who can provide a diagnosis in the Cook Islands.If resources allow, some families in the Cook Islands have sought diagnosis in New Zealand at considerable cost. 

Autism Cook Islands was able to secure a fully qualified team of specialists from New Zealand to travel to Rarotonga to perform comprehensive assessments and diagnosis in 2019. We are committed to do our best to bring diagnostic teams to the Cook Islands. 

My child has been diagnosed with Autism. What should I do next?

Firstly, give yourself some time and space to come to terms with the diagnosis. We can experience a range of feelings from relief to a deep sense of sadness. Remember, A diagnosis means you can now begin to better understand and support your child and help them to live a full and meaningful life. Your unconditional love and accepted is your child’s greatest asset.

Become and expert on your child. What triggers your child’s disruptive behaviour or causes them stress? What do they love to do? What makes them upset or helps them to cope with new surroundings? By knowing what affects or helps your child, you can assist your support team understand and assist with managing situations that may cause difficulties. 

You are not alone! Many parents in the Cook Islands have been through this. Reach out to our team on info@autismcookislands.org or send us a message on our Facebook page. 

Will my child with ASD grow and develop?

It’s important to remember that abilities can change over time. They may have the ability to complete a task in one situation, but not in a new environment. This is true for people with autism who usually find change challenging.