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AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS AND THE SCIENCE OF SOCIAL WORK
Introduction: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability that presents within a range of developmental disorders that are characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Social workers need to be educated on the importance of the process of assessment, the need for proper diagnosis, and the link between assessment and treatment. The aim of this article is to show the role social work science in the assessment of ASD. Findings: Social work profession has not yet taken a leadership role in addressing the myriad of challenges that individuals on the autism spectrum encounter across the lifespan. Social workers can play a broad role in supporting children and youth with ASD and their families. Parents and other family members can benefit from talking to a social worker to address the various emotions and stress of having a child with ASD in the family. Social workers should be equipped to engage in research and practice aimed at promoting full and meaningful inclusion in society, as well as social and economic justice, for individuals on the autism spectrum. They can work with the child or youth in processing friendship and relationships concerns, difficulties with social skills, mood and anxiety, and provide help in various life transitions and tasks. Social work researchers have a key role in investigating the diverse experiences of people with ASD, with an eye towards developing and testing a continuum of multisystemic interventions. Conclusions: Value of social workers in the healthcare system may be enhanced by increasing social worker knowledge and skills relevant to autism and emphasizing the benefits and value of the role of social work and may result in improved quality of patient and family-centered care and a higher satisfaction with healthcare services for children with autism and their families.