Updated: Aug 10
Autism is a neurological disorder that occurs due to developmental differences in the brain of the child while in the womb of the mother. The exact cause of autism is not known to date, but several types of research have implied the role of certain factors that contribute to the development of autism-like-
Initially, it was thought to be a behavioral or mood disorder, but now it is clearer that it is a neurological disorder.
Genetics is also an important contributing factor to autism, it has been concluded by various research that the risk of autism increases by 90% in twins, and by 6-20% in siblings.
Environmental factors like pollution, toxins, and drugs increase the risk of autism in genetically predisposed individuals.
Maternal factors like nutrition, alcohol intake, advanced parent age, and siblings born less than 1 year apart are a few causative factors for autism.
How do you know if your child is not autistic?
If your child is not developing their milestones on time, it is totally natural to worry whether the child has any challenges or disorders. That’s just a part of parenting. As autism is becoming a topic of interest now and there are so many works being published on it, sometimes things as simple as your child not paying attention, or being less interactive may seem like autism. Autism comprises a wide range of symptoms, not just a few quirks. Here is a list of behaviors and actions that may point towards autism but are most likely not to be caused by a developmental disorder.
Develops symptoms after crossing early childhood- for instance, your child has developed and behaved properly in his early childhood, and all of sudden at the age of 7 develops behavior that points towards autism. For a child to be diagnosed with autism, the symptoms should be present at an early age.
Surely speech delay is a symptom of autism, but it can be due to a wide range of disorders, like hearing loss, and aphasia, and sometimes it could be totally natural, it means that boys often speak later than girls, so if you are comparing with a girl child it may seem like speech delay.
Does not respond to their name being called, this symptom is on the top of every list of signs and symptoms of autism. You have to notice if your child interacts with other children, has normal playing habits, and has no sensory issues, but they just don’t respond when you call their name. It can be because they are just engaged in the game or have some level of hearing loss.
Has trouble with learning things, if your child hasn’t learned numbers and words like his peers, it may be because he is having difficulty at school.
Has an introverted behavior, if your child prefers to read or play alone rather than running or playing with his peers, it may be because he is shy. Many people are introverted, if your child is developing properly in other domains it is probably nothing serious, but you can visit an expert who can help them overcome the anxiety around others, and open up better.
All in all, if you have doubts, do visit a speech-language pathologist before jumping to conclusions.
What type of school is best for autism?
As the name autism spectrum disorder suggests, there are no specific symptoms of autism that will be shown by all the kids. Therefore, there is no one size fits all approach to education when it comes to autistic kids either. A good educational program is decided as per the needs of the child. There are different levels of functioning in autism, some children face more intellectual challenges than others, and sometimes few children may be able to interact normally whereas others may be nonverbal.
There are many educational options for a child with autism-
In a general classroom, the term used nowadays is inclusion, which describes a setting where a child studies with other children in a classroom with minimum extra support. The child is expected to behave appropriately, follow the teacher’s instructions, and learn along with his peers. It works amazingly for high-functioning autistic kids who are moderately social. But a drawback of this method is that sometimes it can be overwhelming for an autistic child, and can lead to outbursts.
Inclusion with support is where there is a special curriculum, lesser work, modified class settings, and much more. Parents give preference to inclusion with support over special education settings.
Special education involves the child being in a disability education classroom, it can be helpful for the child as there is a teacher with a specialization in teaching autistic children. The classes in these schools are smaller, and they focus on the development of social skills and the child has to take part in all the special activities planned for them.
Special private schools, many schools are starting to specialize only in autism. They can be quite helpful for children who have difficulty learning in restrictive settings. These schools have specialized programs for autistic kids, the teachers there understand autism, there are therapeutic resources and these schools often have specialists like speech-language pathologists or occupational therapists.
Homeschooling, as access to the above-mentioned options, can be difficult for some families, but homeschooling is becoming more and more popular now. There is plenty of material online that can help you with the child’s education and development. The best perk of homeschooling is flexibility, you can use the end limit of toys or objects to help the child learn.
Out of all these options, the best teaching facility for your child depends on their needs and the severity of the symptoms of autism. Try working along with your child’s teachers to provide the right support to the child.
What is the future of autistic children? Will my autistic child lead a normal life?
The thought would bother you often, and if it does, it is totally normal and to some extent necessary as it motivates you to find better aids, and help them transition to adult life as smoothly as possible.
What does a normal life mean?
When considering an autistic person, normal life is
Being able to take care of oneself,
Having a healthy life, and
Being able to establish healthy relationships.
The adult life of an autistic person is very much different from everyone else’s. The challenges your child faces now may seem like they would impact the life of your child as an adult and they probably will, but with timely transition planning and intervention, things can be easier for them.
There are many autistic individuals who not only take care of themselves but are living a happy, healthy, and social life. Many have even become role models for the younger generations.
They didn’t get where they are today by some miracle. When we think of it, with our parents by our side and with proper guidance and support all can be achieved right, so it is the case for them. Just make sure to shower autistic kids with some extra love and care. It might help them go the extra mile.
What happens if autism is not treated?
Just like any symptom if not treated, gets worse, ASD also gets worse. When ASD is misdiagnosed or the diagnosis is delayed, the symptoms can worsen or the child may display newer symptoms, without timely intervention the child may not acquire cognitive, social, and behavioral skills. As adults, they may have difficulty living independently, and getting a job, and they may struggle with relationships as well.
Several types of research have implicated that autism can have an impact on the physical and mental health of an individual. If left untreated the person can present with at least one psychiatric condition, such as mood disorders, anxiety, the tendency for self-harm, or psychotic disorder in adulthood, the rate of mental health issues increases in autism with age.
Few popular figures with autism, are rocking it out there.
Greta Thunberg- “The diagnosis was almost only positive for me.”
Greta Thunberg is an 18- year old activist, who is known for being vocal about the climate crisis. In an interview with teen vogue, Greta shared that being diagnosed was more of a relief for her. “When I felt the saddest, I didn’t know that I had autism,” she explained. “I just thought, I don’t want to be like this. The diagnosis was almost only positive for me. It helped me get the support I needed and made me understand why I was like this.”
She refers to autism as her ‘superpower’. On being asked how autism has impacted her fight against climate change, she said “A lot of people with autism have a special interest that they can sit and do for an eternity without getting bored,” she explained. “It’s a very useful thing sometimes. Autism can be something that holds you back, but if you get to the right circumstance, if you are around the right people, if you get the adaptations that you need, and if you feel you have a purpose, then it can be something you can use for good. And I think that I’m doing that now.”
We are often fascinated by how the mind of Elon Musk works. In a recent TED Talk interview with the head of TED Chris Anderson discussed his experience with autism. When asked about his experience while growing up, he said, "Social cues were not intuitive, so I was just very bookish," Musk told Anderson. "Others could intuitively understand what was meant by something. I would take something very literally as if the words that were spoken were exactly what they meant. But that turned out to be wrong. [People are] not simply saying exactly what they mean. There are all sorts of other things that are meant. It took me a while to figure that out.” Musk suggested that autism has aided his future, as his intense interest in science and technology was amplified by his hyper-focused mind. "I found it rewarding to spend all night programming computers, just by myself," Musk told Anderson. "Most people don't enjoy typing strange symbols into a computer by themselves all night. They think that's not fun. But I really liked it."
We may not completely understand why Elon Musk tweets the way he does, but we sure look at autism more positively.
Sounderic provides online speech therapy sessions for children with various communication disorders. We would love to help you. Get in touch with us on WhatsApp at +919644466635 or schedule a consultation with us at https://www.sounderic.com/service-page/speech-language-consultation-for-kids?referral=service_list_widget