Although both disorders have different manifestations and etiologies, the similarity is that both omit socialization. It is important to avoid confusion and resort to a professional diagnosis.
According to the World Health Organization, one in every 100 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Therefore, we must take into account that this neurodevelopmental alteration affects communication, language, behavior and social relationships in children. In the same way that, in some cases, it can be confused with other aspects of mental health, such as social phobia.
According to Mag. Giuliana Ortiz Mayor, Professor at the Universidad Privada del Norte (UPN) and specialist in learning problems and inclusive education, there are certain warning signs to identify a case of ASD in children. “In these situations, the first to detect that something is happening are the parents. Then, when they enter the school, the ones who will notice it first will be the teachers,” she added.
Signs of suspected Autism Spectrum Disorder
They do not maintain eye contact
They do not respond when their name is called
They do not usually play with other children
They present echolalia (they repeat words or phrases)
They get irritated easily
They put the toys in a row
They have delays in their language
They have impulsive or distracted behavior
Problems with eating and sleeping
Unusual emotional reactions
Regarding treatment, according to the specialist, in cases of ASD, not only therapies are carried out with the child, but the parents are also involved. “Among the therapies used are pharmacological therapy (only in some cases), cognitive behavioral therapy, the ABA method, floortime therapy, play therapy and sensory integration,” said Mag. Ortiz.
“There is no more suitable intervention method, as it must be adapted to the environment and the individual characteristics of each case. However, combined interventions that integrate knowledge from various methods, generally with behavioral-based elements, are giving good results,” the expert stressed.
What is social phobia?
Mag. Héctor Lazo, psychologist at SANNA Clínica El Golf, indicated that in children, anxiety can occur in meetings with individuals of the same age and not only in interaction with adults. “The child is afraid of acting in a certain way or of showing symptoms of anxiety that value him negatively, that is, that they humiliate or embarrass him,” he specified .
“Fear or anxiety is expressed by crying, tantrums, clinging, shrinking, or failure to speak in social situations. Social situations are avoided or resisted with fear or intense anxiety, and last an average of six or more months,” said Lazo.
In that sense, Mag. Giuliana Oriz emphasized that phobia is an intense fear. “ As for social phobia, it occurs during the child’s development and manifests itself with excessive fear of situations that expose the child to being judged, humiliated or embarrassed. In some cases, they present palpitations, sweating and social isolation,” she added.
The teacher added that, although both disorders have different manifestations and etiologies, the similarity is that both omit socialization. Therefore, it will be essential to consider the warning signs mentioned and consult a specialist to achieve early detection and intervention.
Along these lines, Giuliana Ortiz listed some of the methods used to combat social phobia, in addition to the constant support of the child’s family:
Cognitive behavioral therapy.