AWARENESS – NOT FEAR. FACING AUTISM
Autism is a word that can be a frightening diagnosis for a parent to hear. It’s emotionally distressing to know that your child will have this development disorder for the rest of their life. Understanding what autism is can help the family better help the child, and each other, have a loving and productive life.
Autism is more than just one thing. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) covers a broad range of symptoms associated with this complex brain development. It includes Asperger Syndrome, as well as non specified development disorders. Recognizing the symptoms early and addressing them is important. Symptoms to look for in your child include:
- Making very little or no eye contact.
- Not recognizing their name by 12 months old.
- Greatly delayed speech or language skills.
- Extended repetitive mannerisms such as flapping their hands, rocking, or spinning in circles.
- Becoming overly upset at changes in the routine.
- Repetition of words or phrases that are said to them.
- Physical look or actions don’t match what’s being said.
- Extreme sensitivities to light, sound, or textures.
Individually, these symptoms may be a part of growth and development. But combined they can be signs that your child has some form of ASD.
Determining if a child has Autism can be done by the age of two. Diagnosing older children can be done through evaluations. Many times teachers can recognize the first signs through sudden changes in behavior or habits.
Exactly why children develop ASD is still being studied. It typically occurs more in boys than girls. Genetics play a role as well. It also seems to occur more often in children that have other genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome or tuberous sclerosis.
Living with Autism now is not as bad as in years past. There are many approaches combining different treatments and therapies that can help children grow and learn. There is no one specific treatment, but a variety of options and combinations of therapies, medications, and training that will help the child and family adapt to the disability.
Occupational Therapy can help develop techniques and methods to take care of daily activities and gain a sense of independence.
Physical Therapy works to develop walking, balance, strength and coordination.
Family Support and Counseling reminds everyone that they are not alone. Knowing you’re part of a community can help to find resources and discover new ideas for improving daily life, and provide much needed emotional support.
Speech Therapy addresses the issue of communication that most suffering from ADS have. It allows the child to better express their needs, so it reduces frustration which can trigger incidents.
A coordinated treatment program can bring all the aspects of evaluation and therapy together. Working with your doctor and other professionals that specialize in care to specific disorders can greatly improve the child’s chance for successful progressive steps.
The earlier the diagnosis, the better chance for proper intervention and development of a treatment program. Autism may be considered a childhood issue, but children grow in to adults. It is something they will be living with throughout their life. It’s important to give the child a strong foundation in these key areas so they can grow and thrive as adults, something that would not have been possible years ago.
During Autism Awareness Month, it’s important to try to understand the needs of people dealing with ADS. They should have every opportunity to lead vibrant, independent lives.
Talk to your pediatrician to know more about Autism and educate yourself and make us part of your journey to good health and development.
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