The Mysterious Disorder
AUTISM is a lifelong neuro-developmental disorder that affects the brain’s function. The first signs usually appear before a child is three years old. People with autism often find social interaction difficult, have problems with verbal and non-verbal communication, demonstrate restrictive and repetitive behavior, have a limited set of interests and activities, and experience over or under sensitivity to sound, touch, taste, smell, light or colors.
Autism is one of the five recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other four being Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, Childhood dis-integrative disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS)
The three main areas of difficulty; which all people with autism share are sometimes known as the 'triad of impairments'. They are:
- Difficulty with social communication: People with autism have difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal language.
- Difficulty with social interaction: People with autism often have difficulty recognizing or understanding other people's emotions and feelings, and expressing their own, which can make it more difficult for them to fit in socially
- Difficulty with social imagination: Difficulties with social imagination mean that people with autism find it hard to understand and interpret other people's thoughts, feelings and actions, predict what will happen next or what could happen next, understand the concept of danger, engage in imaginative play and activities, prepare for change and plan for the future, and cope in new or unfamiliar situations.
Cause of Autism
Symptoms of Autism
A cause for autism has not yet been identified. Many theories about autism from that past have now been proven to be false. The truth is:
- Autism is not a mental illness.
- Children with autism do not choose to sometimes misbehave and act distracted.
- Bad parenting does not cause autism.
- Children do not have autism because they are possessed by bad spirit or evil’s eye.
- Children do not have autism as a result of sins parents committed.
- There are no known problems that can occur in childhood that will cause autism.
- Repetitive Behavior / Love of routines
- Sensory sensitivity
- Inability to communicate & socially interact
- Learning disabilities
Who is Affected by Autism?
Autism tends to occur more in boys than in girls. It can appear in children of all races, religions, and ethnic groups. Family economic status, lifestyle, and educational levels do not have an effect on whether or not a child is born with autism.
A diagnosis is the formal identification of autism. The person who makes the diagnosis must be very familiar with autism because there are so many different ways that autism can appear in a child. The best approach to diagnosis is to have a team of professionals which include a neurologist, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, learning consultant, and/or any other professional who knows about autism.
Management of Autism
At present, there is no 'cure' for autism. However, there is a range of interventions - methods. There are many therapies that help people manage autism, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration, vision therapy, music therapy, and auditory training. Certain medications, supplements and/or food restrictions may also help.
The main goals when treating children with autism are to lessen associated deficits and family distress, and to increase quality of life and functional independence. No single treatment is best and treatment is typically tailored to the child's needs. Families and the educational system are the main resources for treatment.
At an early age, children with autism should learn job skills and activity of daily living skills (ADLs) that will help them live in the community. Job skills may for example include sorting by color or size so they may get a job as a mail person in an office. ADLs include brushing one’s teeth, looking both ways when one crosses the street, speaking to another person while maintaining eye contact, and buying something at the supermarket. The more skills the child has, the more independent he/she may be in the future.