Autism is a disorder of the brain, a condition where a part of the brain stops functioning. Some areas of the brain find it hard to communicate or relate to others. Hence, people who have this disorder find it difficult to relate to others. However, diagnosis and treatment at an early stage can help people overcome the situation.
What causes autism?
Autism is an inherited disorder. Research to discover the exact gene that carries autism is ongoing. Scientists are also exploring to see if medical problems can cause autism. Although some childhood vaccines (for measles-mumps-rubella or MMR vaccine) have been linked to autism, there is no evidence as such to prove the same. Hence, ensure that your child gets vaccinated against all serious diseases.
What are the symptoms?
Autism symptoms can be detected even before the child is 3 years old. Some signs would be when:
- A child fails to speak or does not show an inclination or ability in learning syllables.
- He/she may also seem deaf despite having a normal hearing capacity.
- The child exhibits repeated and overused patterns of behavior. For e.g. a child may compulsively repeate body movements in a certain pattern, or may be acutely obsessed with certain objects.
- The child may also show signs of agitation if there is a change in routine
All the patterns may range from mild to severe.
Other problems associated with autism include:
- Most children have below-normal intelligence.
- Teens become victims of depression and those with average or above-average intelligence experience anxiety.
- Some teens may also experience seizures such as epilepsy.
How is autism diagnosed?
There are three categories of symptoms that help a doctor determine if your child has autism.
- Social interactions and relationships: Many parents see that their child has trouble making eye contact. Autistic children may also find it difficult to express sensitivity to others’ feelings, such as pain or sadness.
- Verbal and nonverbal communication:Even though the child repeats a phrase or a set of syllables, he or she may not be able to speak.
- Limited interests in activities or play: Autistic kids may show interest only in doing a specific activity or playing with only a particular toy.
It is a good idea to get a hearing and series of other tests (based on a doctor’s advice) done, to make sure your child’s problems are not caused by any other condition.
How is it treated?
Behavioural training is the key for autistic treatment. The treatment is incentive driven and rewards good behaviour, encouraging the children in picking up speech and social skills. With treatment, most autistic kids learn to relate to others, pick up communication skills and also learn to take care of themselves.
Sometimes treatment may involve the use of physical therapy or speech therapy. Children diagnosed with problems such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorders may have to be put under medication. Therefore, treatment varies depending on the symptoms exhibited by each child.
How can your family deal with having a child with autism?
If you have children with autism at home, then make sure the environment is conducive for the child’s recovery. It is important that every family member is trained to manage autistic kids. This will not just help the child function better, but also prevent pressure on one caregiver alone. Do seek help from all possible sources in your vicinity like counselors, friends, relatives and organizations dedicated to the care of autistic children.
Raising a child with autism requires a lot of hard work. With just a little support and proper training, it need not be a challenge to cope with the situation.
Managing autistic children
- Take breaks. Caring for an autistic child on a daily basis may take its toll. Hence, it helps to take breaks and divide the job among family members.
- It may not be possible for you to single-handedly manage the child as they grow up especially when they reachtheir teen years. An extra hand will definitely ease the stress.
- Talking, exchanging information and sharing ideas helps. You can connect with other families, share your problems, seek advice and take suggestions so you learn new and effective strategies that help in taking care of your child.
For any support required, book doctor appointments & online consultations at Ask Apollo.