Autism: A spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, and unusual and repetitive behavior. Some, but not all, people with autism are both verbal and non-verbal.
Autism is normally diagnosed before age six and may be diagnosed in infancy in some cases. But unfortunatly in our country it is misdiagnosed and misguided due to unawareness. The degree of autism varies from mild to severe in different children. Severely afflicted children can appear profoundly mental retarded.
Autism or autistic-like behavior may co-occur with many other neurological conditions. Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism and its associated behaviors have been estimated to occur in as many as 1 in 120 individuals . Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle, and educational levels do not affect the chance of autism’s occurrence.
Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.
The disorder makes it hard for them to communicate with others and relate to the outside world. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present. Persons with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects and resistance to changes in routines. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
Children with autism generally have problems in three crucial areas of development — social interaction, language and behavior. But because the symptoms of autism vary greatly, two children with the same diagnosis may act quite differently and have strikingly different skills. In most cases, though, the most severe autism is marked by a complete inability to communicate or interact with other people.
Many children show signs of autism in early infancy. Other children may develop normally for the first few months or years of life but then suddenly become withdrawn, aggressive or lose language skills they’ve already acquired. Though each child with autism is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior, these characteristics are common signs of the disorder:
1. Fails to respond to his or her name
2.Has poor eye contact
3.Appears not to hear you at times
4.Resists cuddling and holding
5. Appears unaware of others’ feelings
6.Seems to prefer playing alone — retreats into his or her “own world”
7.Starts talking later than other children
8.Loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences
9.Does not make eye contact when making requests
10.Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
11. May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn’t understand how to use them
12. Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping
13. Does not like changes
14.may be fascinated by parts of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car
15.May be unusually sensitive to light, sound and touch and yet oblivious to pain
16. echolalia(repeats word or phrases)
Young children with autism also have a hard time sharing experiences with others. When read to, for example, they’re unlikely to point at pictures in the book. This early-developing social skill is crucial to later language and social development.
As they mature, some children with autism become more engaged with others and show less marked disturbances in behavior. Some, usually those with the least severe problems, eventually may lead normal or near-normal lives. Others, however, continue to have great difficulty with language or social skills, and the adolescent years can mean a worsening of behavior problems.
The majority of children with autism are slow to acquire new knowledge or skills and some have signs of lower than normal intelligence. Other children with autism have normal to high intelligence. These children learn quickly yet have trouble communicating, applying what they know in everyday life and adjusting in social situations. An extremely small number of children with autism are “autistic savants” and have exceptional skills in a specific area, such as art, math or music.
When need the medical advise?
§ Doesn’t babble or coo by 12 months
§ Doesn’t gesture — such as point or wave — by 12 months
§ Doesn’t say single words by 16 months
§ Doesn’t say two-word phrases by 24 months
§ Loses previously acquired language or social skills at any age
Guet editor – Mr. niranjan kumar
Darpan(a center for autistic children) ludhiana