Autism: Don’t Label Your Child ‘Slow’

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Surprisingly, the Indian Government recognized Autism in 2001. Till 1980s, there were reports that the disorder didn’t exist in India. Experts worldwide have estimated that 2-6 children out of every 1000 have Autism. In India, the prevalence rate is 1 in 250 (figure may vary as many cases are not diagnosed). 

Can you believe… currently 10 million people are suffering in India?

What is Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability which starts presenting itself in the first 3 years of a child’s life. It is a result of a neurological disorder which affects the normal brain functions of a child, thus eventually affecting their communication (verbal as well as non-verbal) and social skills as well.

Various researches have shown that autistic people share genetic traits with those people who have ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and/or clinical depression.

Keep in mind that different children behave differently due to autism; no two children will ever have the exact symptoms. Some may experience mild symptoms, while others may experience severe ones. Mentioned below is the most generalized list of symptoms of those who suffer from autism –

Social skills

An autistic child will interact in a very different way from one who does not suffer from autism or any other such condition. If the symptoms in the child are mild, then such people are socially clumsy and awkward, may pass comments which seem offensive to others and may or may not be out of sync with other people of their age group. For those suffering from severe symptoms, they show absolutely no interest in people whatsoever.

Empathy

Autistic children find it extremely hard to understand the feelings and emotions of other people. But this does not mean that they are doing so willingly; if they are made aware of the fact that other people do tend to get hurt because of their actions and behaviour, and that they should take people’s feelings into account, it actually helps them a lot. Frequent practice ensures that the child is able to empathise with others slowly and steadily, eventually making it a natural (and not an intellectual) decision of theirs.

Physical contact

A lot of children with autism have shown dislike to physical contact like being touched, cuddled, hugged etc. However, this is not true for everybody. Many will sometimes hug a parent or a friend, and enjoy that moment of contact greatly.

For children with autism, their social and communicative skills lag behind while their cognitive skills develop quickly enough. Similarly, their language skills might develop rapidly while their motor skills lag behind. For example, they may not be very good at sports, but their vocabulary would be the largest in their age group. Nonetheless, one should remember that autistic children develop differently than normal children, and they should be treated as such.

The ‘treatment’ for autism is intensive – it is a comprehensive undertaking which involves the entire family of the autistic child along with a team of professionals who work hard to ensure that the child is raised in as much of a normal environment as possible.

A lot of programs are possible to be taken right at home, while other programs demand interaction with other autistic children and their parents. Other programs involve the child being sent to special schools or preschools where the teachers are better adept at handling children with special needs. Some families choose to opt for a combination of all these programs to give their child the best treatment possible.

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