All You Need To Know About Autism

According to research, Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys and is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders. It is very important to spread awareness about Autism to ensure acceptance of Autistic people in our society.

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects how a person communicates and relates to other people. Autism is a spectrum because the way it affects different autistic people is different.

Signs Of Autism

Cognitive Signs

  • Disordered learning
  • Higher than average anxiety levels
  • Slower information processing time
  • Poorly formed theory of mind
  • Delayed speech
  • Very good rote memory

Sensory Signs

  • Poor motor skills
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Food Aversions
  • Fear of any specific object

Behavioural Signs

  • Special interests
  • Repetitive behaviours
  • Does not initiate conversations
  • Strong reliance on routines and rules
  • Frequent meltdowns and aggressive tantrums
  • Self injurious behaviour such as head banging, scratching etc.
  • Indifferent to feelings of others
  • Shows no interest in making friends
  • Rocking, Jumping, Hand flapping

Therapies for treating Autism

“If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn” O. Ivar Lovaas

Here are the various techniques for dealing with Autism:

  • Speech Therapy –  Speech Therapy helps Autistic children better express their wants and needs. It also enhances their speech clarity and functional communication.

Techniques Used For Speech Therapy include:

  1. Building vocabulary using toys and objects during play
  2. Working on speech issues including decreased eye contact, tone of message and humour.
  3. Working on phonetics
  4. Decoding strategies to work on reading fluency
  5. Expanding and scaffolding utterances
  • Occupational Therapy–  Occupational Therapy helps Autistic children improve their motor skills and sensory processing skills. It also targets activities for daily living.

Techniques Used For Occupational Therapy include:

  1. Using deep pressure as a calming strategy which includes joint compression, sensory sacks etc.
  2. Ocular motor exercises to strengthen the eyes and their ability to work together.
  3. Promoting multi-sensory interaction with food.
  4. Activities to improve fine motor skills and visual attention such as cutting, stringing beads etc.
  5. Activities to teach appropriate dressing skills such as buttoning, zipping, shoe tying etc.
  • Physical Therapy– Physical Therapy improves strength, coordination and balance. The techniques are tailored according to needs of each individual.

Techniques used for Physical Therapy include:

  1. Exercises to improve muscle toning and muscle strength
  2. Activities that involves running and jumping
  • Applied Behavioural AnalysisIt helps decrease repetitive behaviours and improves social skills.

Techniques used for Applied Behavioural Analysis include:

  1. Activities for vocal imitation
  2. Group activities to help them mingle with other kids.
  3. Matching of similar objects
  4. Sorting of items to help them learn categorization
  5. Patterning to help them identify consistencies

Tips For Parents

  1. Spend time with them: This will strengthen your relationship with the child and will help you in understanding their needs.
  2. Take them out for various activities: It is a way to make them them socialize with other people.
  3. Do not encourage any negative behaviour: This will help in getting rid of their bad habits.
  4. Greet them cheerfully: It fills them with positive energy.

Autism is not a puzzle, nor a disease. Autism is a challenge, but certainly not a devastating one.

-Trisha Van Berkel

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