Autism Spectrum Disorder
DefinitionAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person's ability to communicate, and interact with others and go beyond a restricted stereotyped, repetitive repertoire of interest and activities. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviour’s and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.It is the third most common developmental disorder, more common than Down’s syndrome.
CharacteristicsThe characteristics manifest themselves in Three Main Areas mentioned below:
- Child has delayed language acquisitions. He may respond to a question by repeating it immediately, may repeat certain words out of context and repeat them over and over again.
- He may not use conversation meaningfully and have difficulty conveying needs such as hunger, pain etc.
- Frequently enjoys playing alone, may or may not mix with other children of his age & may not be interested in making friends.
- The child may not look at others straight in the eye.
- The child may not enjoy being cuddled or cuddling others.
- The child does not like to indulge in 'Pretend Play'.
- The child may exhibit socially unacceptable behavior for his age such as smelling people, objects.
3) Unusual Behaviours
- The child may do certain things in the same manner every time, such as taking the same route to school.
- He finds it difficult to adjust to change in routine.
- May be attracted to spinning or rotating objects such as wheels & fans.
- May indulge in self stimulatory activities like spinning, rocking, flapping of objects as well as own body.
- May laugh or become upset without apparent reason.
- May show unusual responses to sensations; one may be oversensitive, other may be undersensitive.
- The child may be oblivious to danger.
Though there are no definitive answers known what causes autism, it may result from a combination of factors including genetic and environmental influences.
Autism is a Spectrum Disorder i.e. the symptoms & the characteristics of Autism may manifest themselves in a wide variety of permutations and combinations & also in varying degrees of severity.
It affects different people in different ways, making it difficult to generalise. This spectrum covers whole range of people with autism who never learn to speak, are
non-verbal to verbal, who have fewer problems with language.
Classic AutismThey are withdrawn in their own shell (characteristics mentioned above).
Asperger’s SyndromeIt is named after the doctor who discovered the syndrome. It applies to people with autism who are high functioning, having average or above average intelligence. They do not shun human contact and want to be sociable but find it hard to interpret the signals like facial expressions while interacting. Thus their social development is most affected.
Treatment Management:There have been certain techniques that have been found to work more efficiently on children with autism. Depending on the child's difficulties, he may need a special educator, speech therapist, occupational therapist and a sensory integration therapist.
Self-help skills and Activities of Daily Living (ADL)Teaching the child by breaking down the task and then teaching him one step at a time is useful in developing social skills , language, self-help and other basic skills such as toilet training, bathing & eating on their own. These skills are important to make him achieve maximum independence.
Communication and schoolingA structured classroom setting with clear expectations and goals have proved very beneficial for the child. Besides behaviour therapy, structured instructions, other educational approaches are also used. Most professionals agree on is that Early Intervention is important.
Behaviour ModificationThis involves rewarding a child for positive behaviour
thus, encouraging him to repeat the same.
PECSPicture Exchange Communication System In this method, a child hands over a relevant card with a picture, e.g. a picture of a cake if he is hungry & gradually learns to build a sentence.
SPELLStructure, Positive, Empathy, Low Arousal & Links
TEACCHTEACCH stands for Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children. It is a complete program of services for autistic people which makes use of several techniques, of several methods in various combinations depending upon the person's needs and emerging capabilities. The main focus is on improving communication skills and education. The main goal of TEACCH for children with autism is to help them grow up to a maximum autonomy at an adult age.
Dietary interventionsDietary interventions are based on the idea that
A diet that some parents have found to be helpful to their child is a Gluten-free, Casein-free diet. Gluten is a family of proteins that is found in cereals like wheat, oat, rye, and barley. Casein is the principal protein in milk. Some parents feel that vitamin supplement like B6 with magnesium makes the vitamin effective. The result of research studies is mixed; some children respond positively, some negatively, some not at all or very little.