2nd April has been designated as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 62/139.
Autism is a complex developmental disability. Experts believe that Autism presents itself during the first three years of a person’s life.
Autism (or ASD) is a wide-spectrum disorder. This means that no two people with autism will have exactly the same symptoms.
Most commonly found problems among people with an ASD.
The way in which a person with an ASD interacts with another individual is quite different compared to how the rest of the population behaves. If the symptoms are not severe, the person with ASD may seem socially clumsy, sometimes offensive in his/her comments, or out of synch with everyone else. If the symptoms are more severe, the person may seem not to be interested in other people at all.
They lack the necessary playing and talking skills.
Empathy – Understanding and being aware of the feelings of others
A person with autism will find it much harder to understand the feelings of other people.
Having a conversation with a person with autism may feel very much like a one-way trip.
A number of children with an ASD do not like cuddling or being touched like other children do. It is wrong to say that all children with autism are like that.
The higher the severity of the autism, the more affected are a person’s speaking skills. Many children with an ASD do not speak at all. People with autism will often repeat words or phrases they hear – an event called echolalia.
The speech of a person with ASD may sound much more formal and woody, compared to other people’s speech.Their intonation may sound flat.
A person with autism likes predictability. Routine is his/her best friend. Going through the motions again and again is very much part of his/her life. To others, these repetitive behaviors may seem like bizarre rites.The repetitive behavior could be drawing the same picture again and again, page after page.
A child with autism develops differently
While a child without autism will develop in many areas at a relatively harmonious rate, this may not be the case for a child with autism. His/her cognitive skills may develop fast, while their social and language skills trail behind. On the other hand, his/her language skills may develop rapidly while their motor skills don’t. They may not be able to catch a ball as well as the other children, but could have a much larger vocabulary. Nonetheless, the social skills of a person with autism will not develop at the same pace as other people’s.
Learning may be unpredictable
How quickly a child with autism learns things can be unpredictable. They may learn something much faster than other children, such as how to read long words, only to forget them completely later on. They may learn how to do something the hard way before they learn how to do it the easy way.
Physical tics and stimming
It is not uncommon for people with autism to have tics. These are usually physical movements that can be jerky. Some ticks can be quite complicated and can go on for a very long time. A number of people with autism are able to control when they happen, others are not. People with ASD who do have tics often say that they have to be expressed, otherwise the urge does not stop. For many, going through the tics is enjoyable, and they have a preferred spot where they do them – usually somewhere private and spacious. When parents first see these tics, especially the convoluted ones, they may experience shock and worry.
People with autism often have obsessions.
Myths about autism
A person with autism feels love, happiness, sadness and pain just like everyone else. Just because some of them may not express their feelings in the same way others do, does not mean at all that they do not have feelings – THEY DO!! It is crucial that the Myth – Autistic people have no feelings – is destroyed.
A sizeable proportion of people with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) have high IQs and a unique talent for computer science. German software company SAP AG has become aware of this and announced in May 2013 that it planned to employ hundreds of people with autism as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists.
How is autism treated?
There is no cure for ASDs. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can bring about substantial improvement. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of individual children. Most health care professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better.
Educational/behavioral interventions: Therapists use highly structured and intensive skill-oriented training sessions to help children develop social and language skills, such as Applied Behavioral Analysis. Family counseling for the parents and siblings of children with an ASD often helps families cope with the particular challenges of living with a child with an ASD.
Medications: Doctors may prescribe medications for treatment of specific autism-related symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Antipsychotic medications are used to treat severe behavioral problems. Seizures can be treated with one or more anticonvulsant drugs. Medication used to treat people with attention deficit disorder can be used effectively to help decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Other therapies: There are a number of controversial therapies or interventions available, but few, if any, are supported by scientific studies. Parents should use caution before adopting any unproven treatments. Although dietary interventions have been helpful in some children, parents should be careful that their child’s nutritional status is carefully followed.