Termed as a neurodevelopment disorder, autism induces delayed group communication; language used in common communiqué or figurative and creative play. This condition usually sets in earlier than the age of 3 in any child. The condition may not be revealed physiologically but a thorough physical and neurological assessment will help identify the situation. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has concluded that 1-6 in 1000 children end up as autistic, though the cause for the condition is not clearly established.
In 1912, Swiss psychiatrist Eugene Bleuler was the first person to use the term autism in English in the American Journal of Insanity. He used the term to express schizophrenic’s trouble in relating with other people. The categorization of autism was clearly put forward in the year 1943 by Dr.Leo Kanner after he studied 11 children with similar behavioral patterns and called it ‘early infantile autism’. Find out more on this condition and how to identify an autistic child.
Autistic child symptoms
Every parent would be eager to see her child smile, cuddle, coo and react to the surroundings around them. Children too love to bask in all the attention. Unfortunately there are some children who refuse to mingle with others and appear to have a world of their own. They live in that world of theirs, always preoccupied and exhibit scant interest in other people and the surrounding atmosphere. They display abnormal behavior, problem in communicating, in social responsiveness and practically nothing interests them. Any child prominently exhibiting the above-mentioned symptoms can be termed an autistic child. Asperger’s disorder, Rett’s disorder and pervasive development disorder are all classified under the broader category of Autistic spectrum disorders; all the above disorders bearing resemblance to autism but differing in some symptoms.
General behavior of an autistic child
Autism in any child will be clearly exhibited from when the child is around 15 months of age, and will be clearer when the child is 3 years old. Parents who are worried about the disinterest shown by their child in all aspects must keep looking for the following symptoms:
- Child refusing to show interest in cuddling the parent.
- Child who does not develop speech even at 3 years of age.
- Child who prefers to remain alone and aloof.
- Child refuses or shows no interest in interacting with others. The child suffers a set back in non-verbal communication.
- Child does not make eye contact.
- Child makes odd expressions such as rocking and hand fluttering.
- A child who speaks but speaks as though repeating a rhyme. Symptoms of echolalia (repeating a person’s word similar to an echo) are often noticed.
- The child will react in an abnormal way to sensory stimulation.
- Autism can either be mild or severe, with schooling children. Few children perform outstandingly and are highly independent though they have problems adjusting to the school atmosphere. Few other children with severe case of autism can be mentally retarded too.
Autism is generally defined as a spectrum disorder and affects each child at a dissimilar level in varied severity. This affects the way they talk, think, react and communicate. A child affected with autism may not display any deformity in the physical appearance.
- The child has a great problem in communicating either verbally or non-verbally, this should give the parents the clue that the child is having a problem. The speech development is delayed and the child keeps repeating words in a monotone that lacks any rhythm or flow.
- The child prefers to repeat the same action and behavior and shows no interest in mingling with others.
- Autism in 1/3rd of children begins showing up when the child is either one or two years old.
- These children do not play with other kids and prefer to arrange their play things in the same order according to the color always.
- Children with autism have no fear of the surroundings and do not like to change their regular schedules. They are so fine tuned to their routine that they hardly want change.
- These children will find it difficult to understand the loving gestures of their near and dear ones.
- There might be sleep disorders too in few autistic children.
How to assist a child with autism
Understanding a child with autism and working with the child is a challenge for any parent. Given below are tips that can help the parent to attend to an autistic child in a better way.
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- Make the child feel one with the family and do not make the child feel he needs more attention when compared to others in the family. There is no use showering too much attention on the child, it will only leave the child frustrated.
- Allow the child to choose a comfortable schedule for his own self, if parents try to impose schedules it will not only confuse the child but also induce weird behavior.
- Shower praises on the child when he/she has accomplished a task. Autistic children hardly remember the previous day’s occurrences or praises showered on them.
- Ensure you correct undesirable behavior of the child in the beginning itself, reward the child for the correction he/she adapts to. There are chances that the child might create a hue and cry before correcting the behavior and may even avoid eye contact.
- Give the child the opportunity to realize what new schedule the child has to go through else the child will be totally lost. Walk the child through any new task, as this will boost the confidence in the child.
- Admit your child in a school that is qualified to handle such kind of children. The school should be able to provide the extra attention and should be able to cater to all needs of the child.
- Above all never show your frustration on the child, remember the child himself is trying to make way out of his frustrations.