Autism is a form of mental retardation that shows itself right from infancy. If your child has certain early signs like –
ü Doesn’t make eye contact (look at you when being fed)
ü Doesn’t smile when smiled at
ü Doesn’t respond to its name or to the sound of a familiar voice
ü Doesn’t follow objects visually
ü Doesn’t point or wave goodbye or use other gestures to communicate
ü Doesn’t follow gestures when you point things out
ü Doesn’t make noises to attract attention
ü Doesn’t initiate or respond to cuddling
ü Doesn’t imitate your movements and facial expressions
ü Doesn’t reach out to be picked
ü Doesn’t play with others or show interest and enjoyment
ü Doesn’t ask for help or make basic requests
In order children impaired social skills, speech and language difficulties, non verbal communication difficulties and inflexible behavior all point out to autism.
Autism is caused by inherited genetic glitches and spontaneous DNA mutations. At least five to twenty major genes are involved in autism, with many others also contributing to the risk.
Environmental causes of autism include inhalation or absorption of polluted air, food additives, mercury in fish, flame retardants, pesticides, insecticides, various prescription drugs and chemicals used to make synthetic materials.
Autism is a spectrum disorder. There’s a wide degree or variation in the way it affects people. So a team of specialists are involved in diagnosing and treating the afflicted child. They are-
F Child Psychiatrist
F Child Psychologist
F Speech Pathologist
F Developmental Pediatricians
F Pediatric Neurologist
F Physical Therapist
F Special Education Teachers
As no single medical test can diagnose autism, multiple evaluation and tests are necessary. These include parent interviews; medical examinations to test general, physical and neurological parameters. Laboratory tests and genetic testing is also vital. Hearing tests will rule out deafness as a cause of autism-like symptoms. The child will be observed. And lead screening will also ensure that lead poisoning isn’t the cause of autistic-like symptoms. Diagnostic assessment also includes speech, intelligence, social, sensory processing and motor skills testing.
The psychiatrist will advise you to be consistent in dealing with your afflicted child; develop and stick to a structured schedule or routine; reward good behavior; and create a safety zone at home where the autistic child can relax and feel secure and safe.
You will be advised to connect and communicate with your child by the way you look at him/her, the way you touch the child and by the tone of your voice and body language. If a temper tantrum is thrown find the need behind it. Does the child want to say something he can’t verbalize? Make time for fun, schedule a play time when you do thing that makes the child smile or laugh. Find out if the child is hyper sensitive or sensory stimuli and whether it triggers bad or disruptive behavior or a positive response.
The psychiatrist will assist in creating a personalized autism treatment plan. This will build on the child’s interests, offer a predictable schedule, teach tasks as a series of simple steps, engage the child in structured activities and provide regular reinforcement for good behavior.
You will also participate in autism therapies which focus on reducing problematic behavior and build communication and social skills. Other therapies deal with sensory integration problems, motor skills, emotional issues and food sensitivities. The goal is to treat all your child’s symptoms. This combined treatment approach ensures your child is as normal as possible.
So if you have any doubts of your child’s lack of normal behavior feel free to consult a psychiatrist as soon as possible. The earlier the treatment starts the better it is for your child.
- Dr. Rohan Jahagirdar
Mobile: 93 724 16 491
Clinic: 020 - 3240 5770