Archive for the “Autism” Category

Posted on 28 Sep 2012

How to Detect and Treat Autism in Children

Autism is a developmental disorder associated with brain development that is permanent and lifelong, and occurs in the first three year of life. Autism effects 1 in every 91 children and boys are 4 times more likely to be affected compared to females. Autism is a qualitative disorder in which the child has the required skills but these skills are impaired. The level of impairment ranges from individual to individual. Some individuals have no speech at all and also have severe learning disabilities while others have average IQ level and adequate communication skills.

It’s crucial for the best outcome of Autism that early intervention is done. The three distinguishing characteristic of autism are lack of social skills, impairment in communication and repetitive and reoccurring behaviours, activities and interest. These features can also be identified when the baby is one and a half year old. The child does not make eye contact with anyone, likes isolation and does not interact or call attention of people around him. This shows social impairment. Lack of communication is also easy to note as the child is slow in the initiation of speech and usually cannot speak until they are two or three years old. They try to avoid communication and when it becomes essential they do not communicate in same manner as normal children. They perform repetitive movements like rocking, ringing hands and spinning. They show unusual play like playing with the wheel of the car alone rather than the whole car. Developing fixations to objects is also common in autistic children. Routines are very important to autistic children and a slight change in routine meets unexpected amount of restraint from the child.

There is no cure of autism it is not a reversible disorder but with treatment and therapy it can be managed. The management plan aims to improve the quality of life of the individual making him functionally independent and trying to reduce the deficits associated with the disorder. The management plan is divided into three categories to treatment the family intervention, behavioural intervention and medication and diet. Family intervention tries to deal with the issues the parents of the child are facing. This later help in the progress of the child as they later act as the co-therapist. Behavioural intervention focuses on improving developmental areas, education and other behavioural issue. Medication is used to treat emotional and behavioural issues. A gluten and casein free diet is recommended to reduce the autistic symptoms in the individual.

Posted on 27 Sep 2012

Ways To Help Children With Autism

When a child has been diagnosed with autism there are many characteristics of autism that children may display. Children with autism do not demonstrate the same symptoms as the other so it’s important to recognize every symptoms in case there are just one of the symptoms recognized.

Children with autism may not act as though anything is wrong until after the age of two when the child development stages are not noticed. By the age of two, children usually display many different signs that show they are progressing well.

However children with autism may show one of the following symptoms:

Cannot smile and return a smile when you smile at them. This can occur anywhere from age six months and up. They cannot mimic sounds and facial expressions. This is usually noticeable by the age of nine months however if the child doesn’t mimic your facial expressions or sounds by the age of two there may be a problem.

Children with autism cannot talk by the age of sixteen months of age. If a child said something at first but then quite talking then this may also be a sign of autism. The child cannot point, reach, wave, or show you something by the age of one year old.

Parents and child care providers may notice that a child is not responding in as early as a year old but may decide to wait until the child turns two before worrying about it. When the doctor is notified that the parents and or child care giver has noticed a problem, they may order further testing to rule out other types of disabilities.

When children with autism interact with other children, they do not want to play with others, mimic others, or share toys with others. They simply focus on one part of a toy, usually something that goes around or runs, and will not play with any toys other than that one. They will not share that toy with others either.

Children with autism will need to be placed on medications to control the behavioral outbursts as well as other medication depending on what the doctor decides to do.

It’s important that parents of children with autism learn all they can about the condition and learn how to help their child handle activities of daily living. When you work together as a family, children with autism tend to display less symptoms than those who do not have a complete support team. Everyone involved in that child’s life should be a part of their care.

Children with autism like to have a routine that doesn’t change in any way. A simple change is something that upsets them and therefore you should create a schedule that does allow some freeway in schedule changing. Don’t jam pack their schedule so they do not have an opportunity to change anything. Take charge of your child’s schedule and don’t allow anyone to change the schedule without first checking with you. Children with autism can lead a happy life surrounded by those who love and care for them.

Posted on 27 Sep 2012

6 Ways to Nurture Curiosity in a Child With Autism

Along with motivation, curiosity is the one of the best and most direct paths to learning new things. Encouraging curiosity in children is a crucial role parents need to play in developing their child’s intellect. Children will stay curious as long as they are allowed to explore, discover and ask questions. It’s that easy!

If your child is non-verbal and unable to ask questions remember that there are many ways to be curious. Never assume that a child cannot learn just because he can’t articulate a question. Every child’s level of curiosity will be unique.

Young children tend to show their curiosity in various capacities. Children with good communication skills may be verbally inquisitive and their constant questioning, the “whys” and “why not’s”, can drive you nuts! This is when parents need to practice patience.

Other children on the spectrum explore their world more quietly because their ability to communicate is challenged. But as parents pay careful attention, they are able to notice what catches their child’s fancy and build on it.

Your autistic child, verbal or not, may be curious about many things on her own but depending on where she falls on the autism spectrum this exploration may become hyper-focused, excessive, repetitive and cause her to escape from the world around her. Sometimes this is a coping skill kids on the autism spectrum will use when sensory overload occurs.

In situations such as these it is important to remember that curiosity and exploration becomes much more functional when it is interactive. Steering your child’s curious mind in a positive direction by joining in with him will not only expand his cognitive intellect but his ability to socialize as well.

Regardless of your child’s abilities, discovery and learning is most pleasurable when it is shared with someone else. A young child’s learning is reinforced when it is experienced with a loving caretaker who offers a positive comment or gesture.

When exploration is pleasurable it reinforces additional attempts to learn new things and prepares a child to become an active life long learner. Repeated curiosity ensures mastery of new skills, builds confidence and increases self-esteem along the way, which leads to a sense of security for more exploration.

If you want to reinforce curiosity in your child in order to encourage an internal motivation for life-long learning, here are some helpful tips:

1 – Be patient with questions. “What for?” “How come?” and “Why?” can seem like a broken record at times but this is a sign that your child is internally motivated to understand his world and how it works. Providing a quick and simple answer will often satisfy your inquisitive one. Sometimes, it is effective to turn the tables and ask your verbal child, “What do you think?”

When the timing is not favorable for a litany of questions to be asked, such as bedtime, it is time to set some boundaries with a reply such as, “Our time for questions is over and we need to keep the others for tomorrow. It’s time for sleep now.”

2 – Give your child voice. If your child is non-verbal or challenged with language why not bring the questions to her. As you and your child experience your day together, find opportunities to formulate questions that will make her think – questions that you think she might ask if she were more able to. After a short pause, verbalize possible answers to your question.

Any simple task or even a common household item such as a window screen provides an opportunity for posing questions that will stimulate brain cells to make vital connections. “Why do houses have screens?” “What would happen if they didn’t have them?” etc

3 – Create new adventures from everyday experiences. Make being outside an enticing learning experience. A walk in the park can be transformed into a treasure hunt or scientific laboratory that is ripe for promoting new learning. A child who explores their natural environment benefits from using all five of their senses, which stimulates brain development in more ways than one.

4 – Develop questioning conversations when the timing is good for you. Take advantage of breaks in your busy schedule or quiet opportunities for discussion, like driving in the car, to formulate your own inquires that stimulate your child to think. Conversations such as this, that are scheduled on your time clock, will allow you to give your full attention to your child and how his brain thinks or his body responds.

If your child is stumped by your questions let him know it’s all right by responding, “That’s OK, let me tell you what I think.” Once you share your information in a respectful way your child may have something to add. If your child is nonverbal and unable to contribute you are still stimulating connections in his brain simply by trying to engage him.

5 – Revitalize your curious side. The more you share your own inquiring mind with your child, the more it will spark their interest. Try making your inquisitiveness contagious. A good time to do this is when you are reading a story together by asking aloud, “What do you think will happen next?” or “I wonder how this story will end?” When doing daily chores invite your child to problem solve with you by asking for their input. “What do you think would happen if we never took the trash out?”

6 – Ask, “What If?” or “What else?” Asking your child to take their thinking one step further will certainly help develop and expand their brain’s capacity for learning. Asking, “What would the birds do if it snowed today?” could lead your child to respond in many ways. Any answer should be validated and followed up with “What else might happen?” In prodding your child to establish new ways of thinking, you are modeling a joy of discovery. Just remember, the focus is not about getting the correct answer but more about engaging them in a conversation.

Do you still need to be convinced of the benefits that come from engaging in the inquiry process with your child? Once you realize the power of stimulating your child’s curiosity and all the brain cell connections that it makes, you can trust that it is rewiring your child’s brain in a positive way.

If a young child’s curiosity is encouraged in an open and enjoyable manner learning will always be seen as something pleasant. What better gift can a parent provide!

Posted on 12 Sep 2012

How to Manage Autism Symptoms in Children

Children, in one way or another, have to some extent deficiencies in their social skills and may even exhibit odd behaviors different from their playmates. While these tendencies are quite normal circumstances for some children, repetitive actions may be more likely linked to a developmental disorder. This is what medical science calls autism. Children with autism suffer from lagging development in their behavior, social skills, and communication. Almost all symptoms of autism revolve around communication difficulties. Autistic children may display developmental delays most especially in language and learning. They oftentimes show out-of-order learning sequences like being able to understand complex ideas first before understanding the simple ones. An autistic child may also have poor, social interaction. The child may become withdrawn from people, even from his own parents and siblings. The child may act as if he is in his own world, like preferring to play all by himself. His verbal and nonverbal communication is also affected. One hallmark symptom of a child with autism is doing repetitive movements like spinning, hand flapping, and rocking. He may even exhibit aggressive behavior once frustrated. Understanding these symptoms can help the parents and caregivers to find ways on how to intervene and handle a child with autism.

An autistic child lacks social interaction skills; thus, frequently establishing a conversation may help. At the start, initiating a conversation with an autistic child may seem not easy. An autistic child will either give short replies or no response at all. Make frequent conversations with the child even though the child won’t answer back. Show the child that you are patient enough to wait for him. Patience is highly needed when working with children with autism. Set a physical distance if the child seemed agitated by your presence. Give him some space before slowly approaching. When talking to the child, do not tower over him. Sit down and talk because sometimes the adult’s height may intimidate an autistic child. Children with autism may develop a lack of trust with other people. Minimize the chances of the child isolating himself. Take him somewhere where he can play with others like the park or playground. Sometimes ungranted wishes may lead to temper tantrums and even aggression. Be consistent with the child. Provide positive reinforcement or rewards like toys when the child shows desired behaviors. Medications like Risperidone are also helpful in managing irritability and aggressiveness. In instances when the child displays bizarre and repetitive actions like head banging, provide safety like letting him wear a helmet to protect himself from undue injury.

Consequently, an autistic child may display odd behaviors and temper tantrums most of the time. It is important that the parents have a lot of knowledge about their child’s condition including its symptoms and severity. It is also advisable that the parents seek medical advice regarding their child’s health status and be actively involved in giving care to the child. Show him the unconditional love a child deserves to have from his parents. Reward him with hugs and kisses to show he is loved and secure. Foremost, treat the child with autism as a whole being. Do not let the child’s condition hinder you from realizing he is a young child with a unique personality.

Posted on 29 Aug 2012

How Can I Know If My Child Has Autism?

We are seeing more and more about Autism in the news right now. A number of celebrities have made it public that they have Autistic children. People in general are becoming more aware of Autism, and the question often comes up as to whether their child is Autistic. None of us wants to think that our children have anything wrong with them. However, when we see a news report, or hear reports about children who have Autism, we may begin to have questions about our own children.

There are many symptoms of Autism, and they will be different for each child. Even though you see some of the symptoms of Autism in your child, you should not assume that they are Autistic. Other medical conditions have some of the same symptoms. Many begin talking when they are around one year old. This is one of the developmental milestones. However, some children reach this developmental milestone later. Each child has his or her own rate of development. The fact that your child does not begin talking by the time he or she is one year old could be a sign of Autism, but it does not necessarily mean that they have Autism.

If you are concerned about your child’s rate of development, you should talk with their primary care provider. They will be able to advise you as to whether further testing is indicated. It can be a big mistake for parents to try to self-diagnose their children. Several qualified medical professionals are needed to accurately diagnose Autism in a child. One appointment at the child’s pediatrician will not be sufficient. A team of health care professionals will be necessary to properly evaluate your child. It is important to have your child evaluated, and earlier evaluation will give a better chance of identifying the right treatment to help the child.

Remember that your child is an individual and try not to make comparisons of your child with other children. Children grow and develop at their own individual rates. A child may reach some milestones later than others, and they may reach some earlier than others. Sometimes parent feel instinctively that something is wrong. If you feel that gut instinct that your child has problems, but the child’s doctor does not agree, do not hesitate to get a second opinion. Parents know their children better than anyone and it is up to them to be the voice for their child.

Learning whether your child is Autistic can take time. It will likely be a life changing experience for both the parents and the child. When you have found that your child is Autistic, you will be able begin the process of finding the right course of treatment. If you find that Autism is not what is causing your childs problems, still you will be better able to determine what kind of help is needed.

Some of the indicators that your child needs further evaluation include:

1. Little or no eye contact

2. Poor or no communication. This can include sounds, or words.

3. Little or no demonstration of emotions.

4. Does not pretend play.

5. Tends to use repetitive motions.

6. Schedule changes cause problems.

7. Does not respond with words or looks when you talk to them.

8. Does the same things over and over again.

9. Loses skills they once knew.

10. Develops attachments to certain foods, or smells, or has other sensory issues.

Talk to the doctor if you observe signs such as these in your child. It is very important to get a diagnosis and establish a plan for treatment. But do not be overly concerned about little things. Remember, it just takes a little longer for some children to develop and reach the milestones.

Posted on 17 Aug 2011

Working With an Autistic Child

It is important to provide intense and continuous assistance to an autistic child. This is the best way to help them when working with them, as repetition is important. If this autistic child is a family member or a student in your class, be sure they are included. That doesn’t mean they have to be the center of attention all the time, but they need to benefit from being part of the group. Helping them feel included will be a benefit to everyone.

An autistic child has a condition that can vary from severe to mild. Working with an them is a way of helping them cope with their condition and treat it. Such a child thrives on consistency. They need their routine. If they get this they will be calmer or able to cope more easily daily. Autistic children need to know what they are doing daily. They need to feel in control and organization. If a routine is not working for them then find out various ways of finding what is best for them. Don’t include too much into the schedule either because it is overwhelming. They will become upset and confused in many instanced.

When it comes to rewarding an autistic child it is also important to use the same words every time. This practice should also be used if you have to let them know they are not doing something properly. This is a form of consistency and it will help them understand the situation better. Experience is not the teaching form for an autistic child, but consistency. They do not learn or remember from experience and can keep on making the same mistake everyday. It requires a lot of patience to deal with such situations. If discipline is needed, then behavior modification is the way to go. Rewards will help by providing motivation. A ratio that is considered best is 10 to 1. When you correct the child be sure to use 10 statements of praise. This will help them understand that modification is needed but they are doing well. It boosts the morale and builds confidence in the child.

Train yourself to help avoid behavior issues in the child. When you notice what happens before a behavior issue then you can find ways to end it before it starts. It might be avoiding eye contact or whining. Give the child a basic job and help the child through it carefully. Remember to give praise. It can also help if you give a detail explanation of something that is going to happen. It will give them a better understanding and they will feel more control. Remember the earlier an autistic child gets treatment, the easier they will be able to adapt.

Putting the child in a special education class can be educative and the parents get to meet and share with other parents. Being a caregiver or parent of an autistic child can be overwhelming at times and stress is high so a forum or group can help.

Posted on 30 Jun 2011

Top 10 Myths About People With Autism

Myth #1. Autism is the parents’ fault: Theories of what actually causes autism abound these days. Everything from mercury in vaccinations to food allergies to genetics are all theories of how autism came about. No one seems to really know why autism exists. One thing I can tell you is that it is NOT the parent’s fault. There was a time, not so long ago that doctors blamed the mother for a child being autistic. The doctors believed that an autistic child had “withdrawn inside himself” due to a lack of affection given by the mother. The mothers used to be deemed “Refrigerator Mothers” because it was believed they were cold and un-affectionate. Now, we know that this is just not true! Many scientists think that autism is a genetic problem but even so, no one can seem to find a cure for it.

Myth #2. Autism is caused by a lack of discipline or spoiling: Lots of unknowing people, mostly passers by and looky-loo’s are under the impression that kids with autism are just spoiled brats who scream because they don’t get their way. Parents are offered lots of advice about how to discipline and set down rules for their child by people who have no idea what it’s like to raise someone who is autistic.

Let me set the record straight. If you are in a department store and see a child screaming and squirming against their parents, please don’t assume that this child is being a brat. Autistic kids can have some major sensory issues. Common, everyday sounds can literally cause physical pain to some autistic people. The buzzing and flickering of a florescent light can literally drive them insane, and all the distractions and people at a public place like that can scare them because they have no idea what to expect from a stranger. If you want to help, just approach the parent and ask kindly, “I see that you’re struggling, what can I do to help you?” You will be most appreciated! There may be nothing you can do, but your kindness will be noted!

Myth #3. People with Autism are mentally retarded: Some of them are, but not all. Autistic people are usually not just autistic. More often than not, they are autistic and have another issue like ADHD, OCD, Mental Retardation, Dyslexia or sensory issues. Some can’t even speak, some are deaf, some are blind, but this is true with all people in general. This in no way means that ALL autistic people are mentally retarded. A lot of autistic people have average or above average intelligence. It’s just that they may have no way to communicate that intelligence sometimes and once they find a way, they are much better and their intelligence is completely evident.

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Myth #4. People with Autism will never contribute to society: While it may be true that an autistic person may need a mentor or some job coach training, the truth is that with a little help, ANY autistic person can find a way to contribute to society.

Myth #5. All Autistic people are like “Rainman”: Rainman was a really cool character. When I first found out that my son had autism, I watched Rainman again after not having watched it for about 12 years. I had to giggle at the similarities between my son and the character portrayed on T.V. The mannerisms were almost exactly the same! This myth was true in my case, but what most people don’t seem to want to understand is that autistic people are each individuals. Autism is not a cookie-cutter diagnosis. That is why they call it a Spectrum Disorder, because there are so many different symptom and each symptom has varying levels of degree.

Myth #6. Autistic people do not have feelings: I cannot speak for all autistic people really because I am not autistic. I know from knowing my son, however, that at least he does have feelings. He feels happy when he is bike riding with me in the evenings and he feels sad after having to leave his grandma and come back home when he takes a trip to go see her. He feels angry when one of his siblings takes a toy away from him and at times he just wants to be alone. I can tell that he definitely has feelings. He also shows affection. He kisses, hugs, and comforts people just like any non-autistic person. Some autistic people don’t display emotion much, but it’s not a blanket statement that is true of ALL autistic people.

Myth #7. People can outgrow Autism: The treatments for autism are getting better and better everyday. Mostly, the parents of autistic people are the ones working for a cure and not so much the doctors and the scientists. Sometimes it’s the autistic people themselves who are working to find a cure. But there is really no true “Cure” for autism that has been officially found. The mainstream treatment for autism seems to be ABA therapy or Applied Behavior Analysis. It’s kind of a reward program that gives the autistic person what they want if they behave in a certain manner first. I’m not sure how I feel about this therapy. To me, it seems like the therapists are only trying to teach the person with autism how to sit down and shut up, which is not what they need. But there are other treatments out there such as the Son-Rise Program by The Autistic Treatment Center of America that I like. The bottom line is that the symptoms of autism can be diminished, almost to the point of being invisible, but autism is a life-long disorder and people don’t grow out of it.

Myth #8. All autistics are geniuses: Just like in the statement about autistics being mentally retarded, some are geniuses, and some aren’t. Sometimes you will meet a person who is an Autistic Savant. Lots of autistic people have this trait. This is when the person may be a little slow or seemingly unintelligent in some area but their intelligence and comprehension seem to spike in reference to something that they are very interested in or sometimes this happens with one of their 5 senses. Temple Grandin is an example of this with her vision. She has a 3-D photographic memory and is able to move and shift the pictures around in her mind to look at them from different angles like a computer program. She’s been able to do this long before computer programs like that even existed! This is not the exception to the rule though, there are many different levels of intelligence in the autistic community.

Myth #9. Autistic adults will never be able to live on their own: Again, this is not a blanket statement for autistics as a whole. Autistic kids will always grow up to be autistic adults, but with proper training and a little bit of help from programs and the community, it is entirely possible for an autistic adult to live on their own. Symptoms of autism are many different levels of degree. Some function almost “normally” and can do most tasks all on their own with little help from anyone else. Some just need help with things like money management and social situations, and some may be so severe that they may always live in a place like a group home with other autistic people. It just depends on the person.

Myth#10. Autism is a mental illness: Autism is a developmental disability, not a mental illness. There is a difference between a mental illness and a developmental disability. A person with a mental illness is usually very competent and able to care for themselves, but sometimes they have flaws, such as depression or moodiness, that vary from rational to irrational. A person with a developmental disability normally has trouble in areas of life, like self-sufficiency and self-care and may only function up to a certain age level that may be considered far younger than his or her chronological age. A person with a developmental disability may also have a mental illness in addition to their disability but a person with a mental illness does not necessarily have a disability. Another difference between the two is that a developmental disability is permanent whereas a mental illness is treatable.

I hope this has helped to clear up some of the questions people have about autism. I think that the general public really misunderstands autism but with the rising number of people being diagnosed, it seems like there will be more and more encounters with autistic people in the near future. With this in mind, it is good to try to understand this disability as much as possible.

Posted on 23 Jun 2011

Strategies for Parents of Autistic Children

It is important for parents of autistic children to try to understand how their child’s brain works. This is often easier said than done, of course. The more that you understand about why your child acts the way they do, though, the more that you can find ways to help them. The more you understand, the better your relationship will be.

The Need for Routine

One of the most important things to understand about someone with autism is their need for routine. To the uneducated person, it may seem as if they are simply trying to get their way, or even trying to manipulate others, but a routine is indeed a critically important part of life for people with autism.

Why, you ask, do autistic people like routine so much?

An autistic person’s world is filled with lots of uncertainty and fear. They never know exactly what is going to happen next. An autistic person has so many different needs that they have to fill. They become anxious and worry a lot- will it be too loud, will I have what I like to eat, will I encounter the bullies, will I have enough time to compete the assignment, will the lights be too bright. So it is imperative to them, in order to function, to have some manner of routine, so they don’t have to constantly be in a state of panic and fear, wondering if their needs are going to be met in any given situation.

Weak Central Coherence

A psychological explanation for the need for routine is called “weak central coherence.” People with autism often have trouble generalizing specific events to other, more general events. For example, if someone with autism does well with a task one time, in one specific way, that person might not generalize that to other, similar situations.

As a result, they won’t believe that they can also handle these other situations. The upshot of this is that there is a continuously changing number of variables that keep a person with autism in an anxious state – and having a routine, and knowing what to expect, decreases that anxiety significantly.

Why can’t my child see the big picture?

As parents of autistic children probably already know, people with autism get so focused on the small details that something they can’t see it globally. Or in other words, they can’t see the big picture. Simply put, they lack perspective.

Because details are so overwhelmingly obvious to them, people with autism can get very upset when small details are changed – even details no one else would have even noticed. They cling to their routines in an effort to try to preserve their peace of mind, and keep their mood and anxiety levels stable.

It is the job of parents to both provide a safe place for their child to grow up, but also know when it is time to push them out of their comfort zone a little. For parents of autistic children, this is a tough line to walk, but it can be done.

Posted on 03 Jun 2011

Recognizing Autism in Children

According to the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Complete Guide to Early Childhood Care, autism is defined as a cognitive childhood disorder characterized by self-absorption, solitary behavior, late development of speech, inability to relate, and a tendency to engage ritualized, repetitive movements.

This condition is among a group of developmental disorders that include Asperger’s Disorder, Rett’s Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. In some cases autism is genetic, and in others may occur from prenatal damage to the brain. Some features of autism include severe lack of social interaction, difficulty in language, and the likelihood of repetitive actions, and a narrow focus of interest.

In infants, some of the earliest signs of autism are failure to engage in prolonged eye contact, lack of emotional expressions with another person, and failure to engage in shared visual attention. Autistic children seldom use gestures as a form of communication, and their language may appear to reflect a lack of sensitivity to other’s perspectives. In language, most children have difficulty with the pronoun I and you, which differentiates acknowledging that two people in a conversation have different perspectives. It becomes increasingly apparent that the child lives in a world of his own, where speech, facial expressions, and other forms of communication are non-existent or unintelligible. At times few words are spoken, but are repeated over and over for no apparent reason.

An autistic child may not distinguish between other people, other living things, and inanimate objects, and may treat them all the same way. He may not be able to evaluate situations, and consequently may react inappropriately to them. Some children with autism behave unpredictably. The child may become extremely upset if furniture is rearranged in the home or if he or she is taken into a new but friendly surrounding. The same child may also run across a busy street without any sign of fear.

The child may be agitated one moment, and then sit completely still, in a strange position for a lengthy period of time. Autistic children may adopt unusual postures and mannerisms that may make people around them uncomfortable. Autism occurs more frequently in boys than in girls, and there is always a risk of injury if an autistic child is left unsupervised, because he or she has difficulty recognizing danger.

Posted on 15 Apr 2011

How to Spot Autism in Your Child and Manage It

Autism Spectrum Disorders include a number of chronic, no progressive disabilities characterized by lack of social interaction, communication, and behavior. Autism, pervasive developmental disorder NOS, Asperger disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett disorder are all encompassed into the Autism Spectrum of Disorders.

Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Limited eye contact and facial expression
  • Difficulty developing peer relationships
  • Indifference to social overtures
  • Lack of social reciprocity
  • Inflexibility
  • No engagement in pretend play
  • Impaired reciprocal communication
  • Language development delayed
  • Persistent question asking and repeating
  • Restrictive, stereotyped patterns of behavior
  • Repetitive, self-stimulatory behaviors (rocking, spinning)
  • Preoccupation or fascination with a single object or subject


Autism is more common in males and is usually diagnosed between 8 months and 3 years of age. Lack of attachment to mother during infancy is often present. It was believed in the past that MMR vaccine or thimerosal (vaccine preservative) causes autism, but current data research shows no link between MMR vaccines and autism. It is now more commonly believed that autism is caused by multiple environmental factors. The essential features of autism are impaired social interactions and communication. Restricted group of activities and interests, with stereotyped behaviors, rituals, or mannerisms. Siblings of children with autism appear to be at greater risk of developing the disorder.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified)

Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS is the diagnosis given to children who have symptoms such as impaired social interaction and communication skills and/or repetitive, stereotyped behaviors, but with a symptom profile that does not meet diagnostic criteria for autism.

Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome is characterized by difficulty forming relationships/relating to others and development of intense interest in very specific topics. Asperger does not necessarily need to have impaired language production, but very often these children do not understand abstract forms of language such as sarcasm and metaphors, and as a result have a hard time forming interpersonal relationships.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

This disorder is characterized by normal development up to the age of 2 years, followed by loss of previously achieved language, social, and motor developmental milestones. Affected children may show disordered communication and social interactions and may have repetitive movements or stereotypes. Loss of skills must occur before 10 years of age.

Rett Disorder

This is an x-linked disorder that occurs only in girls, as boys usually succumb to the disorder in utero and die. The children in this disorder develop normally until 6 months of age and begin to exhibit symptoms of autism, language delay, psychomotor retardation, decreased head growth, breathing abnormalities, seizures, and poor coordination of gait and trunk movements. Mutations in the MECP2 gene are strongly associated with Rett Disorder.

Management of Autism Spectrum Disorders

The management of autistic disorders is most successful when a multidisciplinary approach is adopted. Intensive behavioral and sensory integration therapy, speech and language training therapy, social modeling, family support, and pharmacologic intervention all must be undertaken as soon as diagnosis is established, although not much evidence exists that shows pharmacologic therapy with antipsychotic (risperidone and aripiprazole) helps these children, but research is currently under way to develop pharmacologic drugs for treatment of autism. The best prognostic indicator of future success in these children is the extent of language development present. The earlier that treatment begins, the better are the chances for the child to live a normal life.