Understanding autism in children helps in identifying the symptoms, knowing the causes and in dealing with the brain disorder. Autistic children have different perceptions of the world around them and may exhibit different behavioural problems. To understand autism better, read on.
Autism is a disorder of the brain which affects a child's ability to communicate, form relationships with others, and respond appropriately to the environment. The symptoms of the disorder can range from moderate to severe. While some children suffering from autism have their speech and intelligence intact there are others who may be mentally retarded or mute. In gentle form a child with autism can stay or live independently. In extreme cases autism may require lifelong medical assistance and support.
The symptoms of autism may differ from person to person. Something that is common in all children suffering from autism is typical behavioural problems related to their social, sensory, communication, motor and sensory skills.
It is important for parents and caregivers to understand that children with autism are first and foremost children. Their perception of the world is very different from that of normal children. Things which are normal to most of us may scare a child with autism. These include sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings.
Some of the common behavioural problems in autistic children include temper tantrums, running around a room, inflicting injuries on self, loud vocalisations and such other distracting behaviours. Autistic children have problems relating to communicating in a socially acceptable way. They are often scared or confused about many things which make them behave in an undesirable fashion.
Challenges Faced by Autistic Children
Have a quick look at some of the challenges affecting social relations in small children suffering from autism.
Inability to interpret non-verbal language
Avoiding eye contact or poor gaze
Inability to understand facial expression of others
Difficulty in controlling their anxiety and emotions
Poor judge of how their own behaviour may affect others
Communication Challenges Faced by Autistic Children
Here are some of the communication challenges which children with autism may have.
Delayed development of expressive and receptive language abilities. In certain extreme cases the child may completely abstain from speaking completely.
Majority of such children normally understand speech accurately but have difficulties in picking up meanings of words.
Children with autism have difficulty in pretend play
Despite these challenges children with autism require and desire to have friends. In fact they have their own ways of connecting with people. Children with autism do have feelings and emotions just like any other normal child of their age.
What Causes Autism?
Although medical research is yet to identify the exact cause of autism in children some of the known causes include:
Viral an infection, mainly rubella virus in the course of the first time period of pregnancy, can predispose the incidence of autism in children.
Genetic, traumatic and infectious factors may also be the reason for autism in children.
Types of Autism in Children
There are two types of autism in children. The first category of children may exhibit the symptoms of autism throughout the first few months of their life. The second type of children with autism will appear absolutely normal up to the age of 18 to 24 months, after which symptoms of autism would surface all of a sudden.
Educational support is one of the ways of developing abilities of children suffering from autism. This support can be given in the elementary school stage itself aimed at developing their cognitive and academic skills, supporting communication and language development, and encouraging appropriate social behaviour. As a child gets older developmentally appropriate skills can be added to the child's lesson plans. For example, during the middle or high school stage such children can be encouraged to learn self-help skills and vocational training.
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- The Indiaparenting Team