What is autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder’ refers to a neuro-psychological condition typically appearing in the first three years of life that significantly affects a person’s ability to communicate, understand relationships and elate to others, and is frequently associated with unusual or stereotypical rituals or behaviors.Signs of autism can be identified by the age of three but there are no physical symptoms for this. Children with autism would be in their own world and there would be a problem to understand the environment around them. Because of the differing degrees of severity and variety of manifestations, the term Autism Spectrum Disorder is often used to describe the whole range.

Features of Autism.

Lack of communication :

Children with an autism spectrum disordersmay have lack of ability to do communication. Many of them they don’t know how to speak and communicate.They may find it hard to use speech with gestures and signs and also to understand when others use it.

Lack of interest in play:

There are difficulties in the development of play and imagination, for example children with autism do not develop creative "let's pretend" play in the way other children do. They have a limited range of imaginative activities, possibly copied and pursued rigidly and repetitively. As a result of sensory processing disorder, these children used to play same kind of games with same repeated movements and postures.

Lack of socialization skills:

Children with autism don’t know how to develop friendship with their aged children and their peer group. They also don’t know the ways to maintain the friendship with others.

Who is affected by autism

Autism knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries and is four times more prevalent in boys than girls. Family income, lifestyle and educational levels do not affect the chance of occurrence. An estimated two million Indians today may be in the autism spectrum disorder. Its prevalence rate now places it as the third most common developmental disability - more common than Down's syndrome. Yet the majority of the populations, including many professionals in the medical, educational, and vocational fields are still unaware of how autism affects people and how to work effectively with individuals with autism. This has been primarily due to the lack of traditional knowledge in diagnosis, intervention, treatment, care and rehabilitation.

Identifying signs of autism

Early identification of autism by assessment would be useful in treatment and rehabilitation. It is important to note that as like any other disease, there are no proper systematic testing methods and physical signs for autism. Autism could be identified only through the lack of behaviour or problem behaviour of the child.

Signs of children with autism

 Prefers to play alone

 Often have repetitive movements such as rocking or hand flapping

 Often repeats the same tasks over and over

 Not responding to others speech or action

 Avoiding eye contact

 Not aware of the presence of others

 Delayed language development

 Failure in developing communication speech; Example inability to ask for the need

 Repeats heard words or phrases (Echolalia)

 Playing differently with toys such as rotating or stacking

 Playing differently with toys such as rotating or stacking

 Difficult in toilet training

 Doesn’t play with other children

 No or lack of language development