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What is autism?

Causes of autism

Autism has no definite known cause. In our current generation, according to researchers, it is believed that Autism is a Multigenetic disorder which means that one may have different genes that makes it more likely to develop Autism. There are some environmental factors that can trigger the development of Autism if one already has these potential genes. Autism is a developmental disorder that affects a child. There is no proof that Autism as a spiritual illness as mostly assumed by people in the society, which is causing a high rate of stigmatization for children with Autism and their families.
No one knows why people have Autism. If your child has Autism, it is not because you are a bad parent. More than 1 person in a family may have Autism.

Treatments & therapies

There are no medications that can cure Autism. Early intervention is always the right way to treat Autism. At the early stage when there are signs showing that the child has communication challenges, unusual behavior, can’t relate well with people in the society, he or she must be sent to the neuro pediatrician as soon as possible to help diagnose if the child has Autism or any other developmental disorder.
After diagnosing the child, he or she will need Autism Specific therapy, which can be done in an Autism Center, a school for special needs or in a regular inclusive school with the help of a facilitator and a team of educators who know about Autism or are willing to learn about Autism. These people can help take care of the child and as well help to build on their skills and potentials.
Parents and guardians should understand that no two children with Autism have the same problem and that each child has his or her own special skill and potential that needs a bit of time and various therapies to help build up on it. Building up on the communication skills and potentials, gives them a great chance and opportunity to live a true happy life in the society.
Autism is sometimes understood not to be a disability but rather a different ability and this is because of how incredible some of the kids can perform well on the potentials when they get the necessary skills and training.
Various therapies needed for children with Autism includes;
i. Speech Therapy
ii. Occupational Therapy
iii. ABA Therapy (Applied Behavioral Analysis)
iv. Diet Therapy
v. Sensory Integration Therapy
vi. Music Therapy
vii. Play Therapy
viii. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
ix. Parent-Mediated Therapy
x. Social Skills Therapy

Helping children with auitism

  • Let’s accept children with Autism in our society and also help to protect their rights.
  • Always give a helping hand to children with Autism, their families, caregivers and volunteers.
  • Volunteer your time at the Autism Centre or any Special Needs School to help care for children living with Autism.
  • Donation in terms of money, learning materials and other resources can be offered to support children with Autism.
  • Always remember to say a word of prayer to support the lives of children living with Autism, their families, caregivers and volunteers.

Models of autism

Old Model: Autism is an incurable, life-long, hard-wired genetic brain disorder.
New Model: Autism is a whole-body condition, with genetic vulnerabilities and environmental triggers, which presents many opportunities for interventions that can improve level of functioning, health and well-being.

(Source: Online course – Autism and the Environment 101.

About autism

Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects the way a person views and interacts with the world around him. Persons with Autism have difficulties in the areas of social interaction, communication, and imagination. They also prefer sameness, consistency, and structure.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that while all people with Autism share specific difficulties, their disorder will affect them in different ways. Some people with Autism can live relatively independent lives, but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.
People with Autism may also experience over or under sensitivity to sounds, touch, taste,
smells, light, colors, and movement. Due to the nature of the disability, children with Autism benefit greatly from individualized education.
Some people with Autism may find it difficult to:

  • Understand what other people think.
  • Tell people what they need, and how they feel.
  • Meet other people and to make new friends.

Not everyone with Autism will find these things difficult because everyone with Autism is
different. You cannot always tell that someone has autism just by looking at them. Because of this, Autism is sometimes called a hidden disability. Autism lasts for all of a person’s life but can still do a lot of things and learn a lot of skills.

How autism affects a child's senses

Sight: Some children with Autism may not like bright lights and while other children with
Autism might like them a lot.
Sound: Some children with Autism may not like loud noises while other children with Autism might like certain noises.
Smell: Some children with Autism may not like some smells while other children with Autism might like certain smell.
Touch: Some children with Autism may not like being touched. Other children with Autism might like being touched or like touching people and things a lot.
Taste: Some people with Autism may like to eat the same food every day. Other children with Autism might like lots of different foods.

i. 0-1year (observing and recognizing): The child focuses on pictures, images and colors,
enjoys looking at picture books, distinguishes among pictures, and imitates gestures and actions.

ii. 1-2years (developing abilities): The child imitates actions and language, recognizes and identifies familiar objects in the picture book with adult assistance, and understands
words and commands.
iii. 2-3years (promoting skills): The child chooses picture books by his or herself, names
pictured objects and identifies several objects within one picture.
iv. 3-4years (curiosity and inquisitiveness): The child seeks information through why and
how questions, learns both by observing and listening to explanation.
v. 4-5years (developing creativity and intelligence): The child plays with words, mimicking
and creating sounds, makes rhymes, recognizes many colors and describes pictures.
vi. 5-6years (promoting thinking): The child can talk confidently and clearly. He or she is
curious about the naming of words.