Does your child have trouble interacting with other people? Would she rather sit in one corner and be with herself than play with children her own age? Does she seem uninterested with toys, people and surroundings? Do you notice significant delay in her social and communication skills? If you answer yes to all or some of these, it's possible that your child has autism.
Autism refers to the developmental disability rooted from a neurological disorder that affects a child's brain function as well as the development of her communication, social, and reasoning skills. It primarily inhibits a child's ability to interact and relate with other people socially. This disorder affects one in every 150 children in the United States, with males affected four times more than females.
Types of Autism Disorders
Autism is actually not a single disorder but a collective term for a group of developmental disorders, which include the following:
Autistic Disorder – This type of autism is also known by other names such as low functioning autism, classic autism, and profound autism. People who are affected with this particular type of autism are described to have low intellectual capacity and problems with communication and social interaction.
Asperger's Syndrome – In this category, the person affected does not experience problems with language but only has trouble with socialization and interaction. Unlike in most other types of autism, this one is not diagnosed in children but in teenagers and adults. This is also in the other end of the autism spectrum, being the highest functioning autism disorder. Albert Einstein has been said to have this kind of autism, which is probably why it has been dubbed as the "little professor" syndrome.
Rett Syndrome – Rett syndrome is the only autism disorder that occurs mainly in females. In this type of autism, the affected person loses communication and social skills over time. Repetitive hand movement is the common symptom of this disorder.
Dealing with a Child with Autism
Treatment for this disorder primarily involves behavioral training that is geared towards positive reinforcement or rewarding of good behavior. Punishing kids with autism will not help them get through this disorder but only make matters worse. If children are treated early for this problem, they will eventually learn to relate and communicate with others better over time.
Other forms of treatment include physical therapy, speech therapy, and therapies for depression or obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Aside from the treatment, it is also a must for the family to provide moral and emotional support for the child. Plan for breaks when taking care of a child with autism. Have everyone in the family take turns in supervising the child so that the job is not put entirely on the parents only. Getting extra help from professionals who can handle autism is also a good idea.
Raising a child with autism can be very challenging. It is imperative for parents to learn more about autism and ways on how they can raise an autistic kid in a positive environment.