Author: Dr Jaya Shiwalkar Developmental Paediatrician, Nagpur Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Autism is a group of life long developmental brain disorders, collectively called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The word spectrum means it has wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. Some children are mildly impaired by their symptoms, but others are severely disabled. It is a significant problem in practically every part of the world, sadly majority of people do not have awareness and resources to help such children. With timely diagnosis and on-going appropriate support significant help can be given to such children/adults.
AUTISM….A MYSTERY FOR PARENTS
An apparently normally developing child till one year, as he moves in his second year of life, starts showing a typical behavioral pattern and parents start feeling…..is everything ok for my child? But child seems to be walking, eating almost normally….but! Actually, this ‘but ‘comes in the mind of parents quite frequently as they observe that child speak (especially without looking in to the persons eyes), but only few words, that also repetitively. Child plays, but prefers to play alone and do not share their joy with others. Child enjoys music, but is very selective. He or she likes to play , but his play activities are quite strange, and may be few more. Doctor may or may not be able to pinpoint the matter, but this is the time when parents should immediately consult a developmental pediatrician, because this could be a collection of symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), presented in variable intensity. Autism is one of the important, fairly common variety of developmental disability. Usual main features of ASD are communicating and interacting with others, they do not like change in their routines and repetitive behavior. They may high level of anxiety. It is supposed to be most under-diagnosed type of disability.Boys are four times more affected than girls. Usual age of diagnosis is around two years, but alert parent can feel it even earlier. The major area of deficit is social communication/interaction and language. It is usually associated with typical behavioral pattern. The early pointers are…poor eye contact, impaired visual tracking of an object, less response to name, inadequate social smile, impaired verbal expression. Lack of interest in surrounding, repetitive activities, hypersensitivity to sound, touch, smells, colours ,food aversions can also be there’. They may have unusual interests. It is important to suspect it and confirm with certain clinical tests. Once diagnosed it is important for parents to understand few things like……
Parental counseling and training is extremely important.
Developmental Therapy needs to be started immediately.
Speech and communication development programme is essential.
Child may need other supplementary therapies like Psychologist, Occupational Therapy/Speech and Language therapy.
Medicines have limited role and needs medical supervision.
Planning a school is a team decision, based on variety of parameters, Regular Therapy is recommended. Acceptance and understanding of the challenges in front of child, is the single most important factor in handling of child with autism. Parents need to understand importance of their role in child’s overall development. Parents are and can be the best advocate to spread the awareness about the condition of the child and resources which are essential part of the treatment. Mobilization of society in positive direction can go a long way in generating required services in the society.
There are useful resources available on internet, it is always useful to try to get possible reliable information from the authentic sources.
Families with child/person having Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder can be of great help with each other by forming a society/group and sharing information can be of great help to everyone. One such platform could be Social Media. It is equally very important not to get trapped in to false information, news or any other unauthentic forms of therapy. https://www.facebook.com/AutismAwarenessPage/