Autism is a disorder affecting a child’s development in 3 main areas :
Autism is a spectrum – and children may be affected with mild to severe autism. Conditions like Asperger’s syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder are now included under the umbrella term of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Some children are more affected than others. Each child is different!
What causes autism?
Autism is NOT caused by:
What are the signs of autism?
Many children with autism seem to be in a world of their own. However, every child with autism is different and may have different symptoms. Your doctor will look for the signs below and make a diagnosis. A single sign alone is not enough to make the diagnosis of autism.
Some key signs are:
· No babbling by 12 months, no single words by 16 months, no meaningful two-word phrases by 24 months
· Poor eye contact
· Doesn’t wave or point to indicate needs or interests
· Repeat words/phrases over and over
· Prefers to play alone
· Doesn’t respond consistently to name
· Doesn’t seem to understand emotions, facial expressions
· Likes a fixed routine, a ‘sameness’ in everything, upset with changes
· Repetitive behaviors – Spinning in circles, hand flapping, rocking
· Likes to line up objects
· Sensory issues – unusual reaction to the way things look, feel, taste, or sound
· Obsessive interests, temper tantrums, self-injurious behavior
Some children with autism may have:
How is autism diagnosed?
– a detailed developmental history
– informal observation of the child during interaction and play
– performance of the child on structured assessment tasks
Autism can be reliably diagnosed by 2- 3 years of age, often even as early as 18 months.
What can I do for my child?
If you suspect your child may have features of autism – do get an evaluation at the earliest.
There is no known cure for autism. However, medication, therapy, and rehabilitation can significantly improve your child’s development.
A child’s brain is rapidly growing and changing in the first few years of life and early intervention can improve outcomes. The rate and degree at which different children acquire skills vary.
Children with autism, like all other children, have the potential to learn. They too have their unique strengths. Parent’s job as caregivers is to understand their child’s strengths and to help them learn according to their own learning style. Parents can learn how to use play and activities during the day to build their child’s communication and social skills.
Most children with Autism have difficulties with expressive and receptive language, attention and social skills. Some children with Autism may have sensory difficulties that make it hard for them to sit in one place and focus or make them sensitive to certain sounds, lights, and textures. They may also have motor difficulties or severe behavioural problems. Such children would benefit from working with a therapist who is trained in Autism intervention.
Some children may require medications for severe behavioural issues, self-injurious behaviour, physical aggression, hyperactivity, ADHD, seizures and sleep problems.
At present, there is NO EVIDENCE to support these therapies:
At SRCC Children’s Hospital, we do NOT recommend any of these forms of therapy at present.
How will SRCC Children’s Hospital help my child?
SRCC Children’s Hospital has a special Autism Cell to help your child and you. Here, your child will receive help from various people. A multi-disciplinary team will help you care for your child.
A Developmental Paediatrician can make the diagnosis and then monitor progress and suggest way forward. A Paediatric Neurologist can also diagnose Autism as well as address other neurological issues along with Autism, if any, like Epilepsy, neurological syndromes, etc. Therapists at the rehabilitation centre can provide therapy to help the child acquire new skills and progress.
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