Child Health & DevelopmentChildren with Disabilities

My Unique, Interesting and Mysterious Child

 

Autism

By Engy Laz, Child Therapist

Unique minds indeed they are; they just view and feel things in a different way. When shown the way to interact and express properly, one will be amazed with their capabilities. These are our autistic children. The month of April has become the month of awareness across the globe in support of autistic children and research. Many historical monuments have been light up in blue color, to support the cause.

Experts believe that autism presents itself during the first three years of a person’s life, but still with no clear evidence for the reason behind it. It’s generally accepted that it’s caused by abnormalities in the brain structure or function. Brain scans show differences in the shape and the structure of the brain in children with autism compared to neurotypical children. Researchers are still investigating a number of theories including heredity, genetics and medical problems.

What is Autism?

By definition, autism belongs to a group of developmental disabilities called, “Autism Spectrum Disorders”, characterized by varying degrees of social impairment, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior.

Previously, all autism disorders were recognized as distinct subtypes including: autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder – but they were all merged under one umbrella: the “Autism Spectrum”. Through the “spectrum” stems the fact that these disorders affect each child differently, meaning that no two people with autism will have the same symptoms.

In other words, each autistic child is unique in his own way.

 

Early Signs

Most parents wonder whether something they did or didn’t do might have caused their child’s autism. Unfortunately, this is something that can’t be known yet but what can be guaranteed is that early intervention ensures better brain functioning, communication skills and overall social behavior.

The earlier you depict signs and receive the support needed, the healthier the results for both the parent and child. Early signs may be recognized by the age of 6 months, including the following:

• No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months or thereafter.
• No smiles or facial expressions by nine months.
• No babbling by 12 months.
• No back and forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
• No words or loss of speech by 16 months, also no repeating of words or phrases they hear – known as ‘echolalia’; the higher the severity the higher the effect on the speaking skills, as some don’t speak at all.
• Poor or absence of eye contact.
• Resistance to any change in their daily routine; such changes may be met by frustration and confusion.
• Fixation to 3 or 4 food items.
• Agitated behavior as many autistic children display aggressive behavior and have temper tantrums. Some engage in self injurious behavior like head banging, hair pulling or biting.
• Repetitive and stereotyped behaviors. Children may spin, line up toys, or get very attached to or obsessed with one intimate thing.
• Low pain threshold. It can take a very painful injury to cry out for help.
• Oversensitivity to different stimuli like smells, light, touch and sounds.

Now that I know, what can I do next?

Each child or adult with autism is unique and so each intervention plan should be tailored to address specific needs. Intervention can involve behavioral treatments, focusing, social skills, language and communication, imitation, play skills, daily living and motor skills. Some cases require medication as well as a special diet.
A person with autism feels love, happiness, sadness and pain just like everyone else. Just because some people with autism may not express their feelings in the same way others do, doesn’t at all mean that they don’t have feelings or that they are incapable of interacting. Raise awareness and respect their feelings to make a change in their lives.

Seek help and reach out.

 

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Psychealth

Since its founding in 2009, Psychealth , a mental health center for services and training with headquarters in Cairo, Egypt strives to provide the highest quality of services ranging from individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, couples therapy, family therapy, training seminars and workshops, counseling to schools, in addition to business / training and professional counseling with its diverse experiences and a wide range of knowledge in science. The modern psyche and its applications, Psychealth is dedicated to using personal, interpersonal, and systemic styles with a broad sensitivity to individual and cultural differences.

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