Autism is a neurological development disorder. It is a lifelong condition which is characterised by impaired social connectivity and lack of establishing a verbal or non-verbal communication.
It is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, wherein the term ‘Spectrum’ describes the types of difficulties and constraints that an autistic child suffers. Some may be chronic and some maybe not.
The very first sign that can be identified is not achieving the developmental milestone that a particular child achieves during his developmental stage. Being an adult, we can observe the following signs. However, it can differ from person to person and the range of autism.
POSSIBLE SIGNS OF AUTISM IN BABIES AND TODDLERS:-
- By 6 months, no social smiles or other warm, joyful expressions directed at people
- By 6 months, limited or no eye contact
- By 9 months, no sharing of vocal sounds, smiles or other nonverbal communication
- By 12 months, no babbling
- By 12 months, no use of gestures to communicate (e.g. pointing, reaching, waving etc.)
- By 12 months, no response to name when called
- By 16 months, no words
- By 24 months, no meaningful, two-word phrases
- Any loss of any previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills
- Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
- Struggles with understanding other people’s feelings
- Remains nonverbal or has delayed language development
- Repeats words or phrases over and over (Echolalia)
- Gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings
- Has highly restricted interests
- Performs repetitive behaviour such as flapping, rocking or spinning
- Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colours.
How to deal with your Autistic child?
It is difficult but it is not impossible to understand the autistic child. There are many things parents can do to cope with their challenges while dealing with an autistic child. Also, taking care of yourself in daily life is very important, because emotionally strong can be the main thing for parents to help their autistic child.
It is natural for you to be worried as a parent when you find that your child has a problem of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The treatments and the therapy can be disappointing for you when you may have heard from your friend that this is a lifelong condition.
Although this is true that it is difficult to come out of this condition, yes there are some treatments and behavioural therapy which can help your child to learn new skills and overcome major developmental challenges.
Seek the help of an expert – the moment you have come to know about this unpleasant fact, seek the help of an expert from that moment. Do not rely on this myth that your child will outgrow this condition with the passage of time. The earlier help gives the greater chances of successful treatment.
Have patience and be consistent – children with ASD takes the longer time to understand and learn the basic habit and behaviour as compared to the other children. so, in this case, you have to be very consistent and full of patience to teach the required behaviour repeatedly. You may find that your kid is responding appropriately to his therapist when being in a particular situation but while being at home, the response is totally different. Therefore, find out what the therapists are doing, and repeat the same thing at your home. Repetition of an activity will help your child to understand the situation and to respond accordingly. Try to arrange the therapy in different places, it will help your child to transfer his knowledge from one surrounding to another.
Stick to a routine time-table for daily activities – A child with ASD respond well when being instructed to follow a restricted routine for the daily activities. Therefore, follow a strict schedule for daily activities like meal-time, playing time, therapy, bedtime, etc. Try to avoid any distraction from the schedule. If the distraction is unavoidable, prepare your child beforehand.
Understand nonverbal cues – Keep an eye and be observant your child’s nonverbal behaviour. Try to understand what he is trying to communicate by giving some gestures or by showing facial expressions.
Pay attention to the sensitivity of your child’s sensory organs – Many children with ASD are to be hypersensitive to the light, sound, smell, touch and taste. That is why, as a parent, it is your responsibility that you pay special attention to what sensation your child is feeling good or bad. Such information can prove to be helpful for you because you can solve many inconveniences that are caused by these sensitivities.
Lastly, when you know that your child is autistic, accept it gracefully. Do not start hating or neglecting your child. Children are the seeker of love and care. The more they receive love, care and support, the better they grow and develop. Do not compare your child’s weakness and strength with other kids. None of us are same in every aspect. Start learning and understanding about autism. Do not overlook it or hide it. If proper therapy and treatments are being given at the correct age, the positive results can be expected. Understand your child, and also be an expert of his behaviour. And yes, do not give up and lose your patience. Don’t jump to a conclusion without knowing anything about your child. There’s always a hope.