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Autism Specialist

Irina Ashamalla, FNP-C; PMHNP-BC -  - Psychiatric Mental Health Care

Mental Health Wellness Boutique

Irina Ashamalla, FNP-C; PMHNP-BC

Psychiatric Mental Health Care & Child and Adult Psychiatric Care located in Glendale, AZ

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, behavior, and social interactions. It’s a spectrum disorder, which means symptoms vary in type and severity. Irina Ashamalla, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, takes an integrated and family-centered approach to autism, using her medical and psychiatric training to create comprehensive plans for her patients with autism. To learn more about autism services at Mental Health Wellness Boutique, call the office in Peoria, Arizona, or schedule online today. Telemedicine appointments are also available.

Autism Q&A

What is autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that causes challenges with communication, socialization, and behavior. People with autism communicate, learn, and interact in ways that differ from most people.

Autism is a spectrum disorder and includes other conditions that used to have their own diagnosis, including autistic disorder and Asperger syndrome. As a spectrum disorder that includes these other conditions, autism symptoms vary significantly, ranging from mild to severe.

Because autism is a developmental disability, symptoms usually appear during the early childhood years (around age two). 

What are the signs and symptoms of autism?

Signs and symptoms of autism involve challenges with social interactions and communication, limited interests, and repetitive behaviors. Common autism symptoms include:

  • Disinterest in interacting with other kids during playtime
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Slowly responding when being called
  • Struggling with back and forth conversations
  • Facial expressions that don’t match the conversation
  • Trouble understanding someone else’s point of view
  • Lasting and intense interest in certain topics
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Difficulty managing a change in routine
  • More or less sensitive to light, noise, or touch

Though people with autism have many challenges, they may also have outstanding abilities, like learning and retaining complex information or excelling in art or music.

What tests diagnose autism?

Diagnosing autism may include multiple steps and tests. During the early developmental years, your child’s pediatrician screens for developmental delays. These screenings help identify delays that may indicate autism.

Your pediatrician then performs autism-specific screening tests and sends you to a developmental pediatrician or child psychiatrist for more thorough testing.

Mrs. Ashamalla at the Mental Health Wellness Boutique is an experienced psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who provides comprehensive diagnostic autism testing. She uses the information gathered during the test, along with her observations, and your reported history, to diagnose autism. 

The results of the testing also help Mrs. Ashamalla design a patient- and family-centered treatment plan. 

What are the treatment options for autism?

An early diagnosis and treatment for autism may help improve overall outcomes and development. Mrs. Ashamalla takes a family-centered approach to care and treatment may include:

  • Play therapy with your child
  • Family therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Psychiatric medication when appropriate

She works closely with you, designing a treatment plan that fits your child’s and family’s needs. 

For an integrated approach to autism, call the Mental Health Wellness Boutique office in Peoria, Arizona, or schedule online today. Telemedicine appointments are also available.