Today I feature another issue that has caused grief to many parents - AUTISM. So, what is it?
An Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental condition which affects three main areas: the ability of the individual
- to communicate
- to socialise, and
- to think flexibly
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. People with ASD have problems with social and communication skills. Many people with ASD also have unusual ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to sensations. It is part of a group of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In most cases its causes are unknown. Today, 1 in 110 individuals is diagnosed with autism.
Autism usually manifests in the first year of life; its onset is not later than 3 years. Listed below are some of the things to watch for as a child grows. These developmental landmarks may be used as a guide to gauge a child's development. If there are any concerns about a child's development or if there is a loss of any skills at any age talk to a doctor as soon as possible.
Many of the danger signs are the very ones that often trouble parents months or years before a child is formally diagnosed with a developmental delay disorder. They are the very things a parent worries about when a baby seems distant or unresponsive, an eighteen-month-old is not talking, or a three-year-old is not playing with other children.
As a parent, you’re in the best position to spot the earliest warning signs of autism. You know your child better than anyone and observe behaviors and quirks that a pediatrician, in a quick fifteen-minute visit, might not have the chance to see. Your child’s pediatrician can be a valuable partner, but don’t discount the importance of your own observations and experience. The key is to educate yourself so you know what’s normal and what’s not.
- Monitor your child’s development. Autism involves a variety of developmental delays, so keeping a close eye on when—or if—your child is hitting the key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones is an effective way to spot the problem early on. While developmental delays don’t automatically point to autism, they may indicate a heightened risk.
- Take action if you’re concerned. Every child develops at a different pace—so you don’t need to panic if your child is a little late to talk or walk. When it comes to healthy development, there’s a wide range of “normal.” But if your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you suspect a problem, share your concerns with your child’s doctor immediately. Don’t wait.
- Don’t accept a wait-and-see approach. Many concerned parents are told, “Don’t worry” or “Wait and see.” But waiting is the worst thing you can do. You risk losing valuable time at an age where your child has the best chance for improvement. Furthermore, whether the delay is caused by autism or some other factor, developmentally delayed kids are unlikely to simply “grow out” of their problems. In order to develop skills in an area of delay, your child needs extra help and targeted treatment.
- Trust your instincts. Ideally, your child’s doctor will take your concerns seriously and perform a thorough evaluation for autism or other developmental delays. But sometimes, even well-meaning doctors miss red flags or underestimate problems. Listen to your gut if it’s telling you something is wrong and be persistent. Schedule a follow-up appointment with the doctor, seek a second opinion, or ask for a referral to a child development specialist.
There are a number of different early intervention options to treat individuals on the autism spectrum.
It’s important to remember that whilst there are many options available, parents should thoroughly investigate the quality and effectiveness of an intervention in order to make an informed choice.
To assist parents in making this decision, the Federal Government commissioned The Australian Society for Autism Research (ASFAR) to produce an independent evaluation of the effectives of early intervention options funded under the Helping Children With Autism (HCWA) package.
Please see the report below
Please select an intervention method from below for more information:
- Behavioural Interventions
- Therapy Based Interventions
- Combined Interventions
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- Developmental Interventions
- Biologically Based Interventions
Clancy's comment: As I have said many times on this blog, if you're not born with a disability you will probably pick one up along the way.