April marks “National Autism Awareness Month.” It is a time for educating the public about autism and issues surrounding it. According to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, autism has been identified in one of 68 children. The condition is said to be more commonly found in boys than girls.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or autism for short, is a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that cover a range of conditions, such as Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, and Asperger syndrome. There are different patterns of autism with each child. In some cases, the symptoms of autism are evident since birth, while other children who have autism develop normally and then suddenly lose their language or social skills later on.
Although each case of autism is different, some symptoms are generally associated with children who have the condition. Some of them include little or no eye contact, difficulty reading facial expressions, and resistance to being touched. The three areas that are typically affected are social interaction, communication, and behaviors and interests.
Children diagnosed with autism need to learn how to interact with other people, which is something that comes naturally for other children. The key to keeping children with autism interested in interacting with others is making social interaction fun and enjoyable for them. Experts suggest doing an activity that is already enjoyable for the child, such as playing with blocks or playing on a swing. If children with autism start enjoying social interaction with people at home, it will be easier for them to socialize with other children at school.
Most children who have ASD have difficulty communicating verbally. A lot of them know how to communicate when they need something, but oftentimes, communicating for social purposes is difficult. It is important to establish a bridge of communication without using speech, since this will be easier for the child. For most children with autism, using gestures or pictures is an effective means of communication.
Behaviors and Interests
There are also certain behaviors that are associated with ASD. These include inflexible routine activities, resistance to change, and routine body movements. These repetitive activities are ways for coping, as children with autism tend to see the world as a confusing and stressful environment. Children with autism typically have a great passion for their interests, and often excel in what they love doing. However, activities that they often do must be supervised, as it can turn into an obsession that can be harmful to them.
Although there is no cure for ASD, therapy and behavioral treatments can remedy the symptoms and improve a child’s condition. These therapies are designed to fit the individual needs of an autistic child. Experts say that the earlier these treatments are done, the better the outcome will be. For parents who have a child with autism, it is important to seek professional advice in order to make life more manageable for the child.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
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