This particular child had the following symptoms of Autism:
- Total lack of social reciprocity (also confirmed by psychometric tests), including the failure to respond and initiate social conversations even when prompted.
- Poor verbal and non – verbal communication, poor or no eye contact and more often than not, lack of facial expressions.
- Difficulty in making friends and almost no interest in interaction with peers.
- Hyperactivity to sensory input, for e.g., during the therapy sessions, the child would get startled at even the slightest of noises from anywhere outside the room and try to look for the source of noise. He would also try to block his ears and would have a confused look on his face.
What was done to help him?
First and foremost, the parents’ sensitivity to the child’s condition is very important. Fortunately, in this case, the mother was well informed about her child and his behavioural, social and academic difficulties and approached the counsellor by herself. Half the battle is won once the parents recognise that their ward needs help and are willing to provide unconditional love and support to the child, which is the foundation for everything else.
- The child has marked speech difficulties for which a speech therapist was brought on board. At one time, the chgild would only answer in a yes / no and often not even that; now the child speaks in one or more words, for e.g., he can now say words like ‘doll’, ‘kitchen’, etc.
- I started play therapy for him, as non-directional play has been shown to bring about many positive changes in a range of childhood problems. The child now is able to focus n some of his education classes, whereas earlier he would not sit at all.
- Teacher sensitisation to the child’s need was performed at the school level, resulting in increased awareness of the child’s condition. This further allowed the teachers to deal with the child in a specific manner that ensured special attention to his needs.
At present, the child in question, is undergoing all the therapies on a regular basis and has shown a lot of improvement since he first started.
Things you can do at home for your child with Autism:
- Become familiar with what Autism really is.
- Pay attention to what exactly your child is trying to tell you.
- Be sensitive to your child’s needs.
- Be supportive. Shouting or hitting will make matters only worse.
- Stick to routines and follow a pattern of saying or doing things with your child.
- Encourage him to learn through pictures and symbols.
- Find out his areas of interest, for e.g., drawing, and provide ample opportunity for him to enjoy and work at that.
Finally, remember, you are the foundation of your child’s success in this world that may seem so alien to him / her. Living with a child with autism will be demanding and often challenging, but the things you will learn and see through your child will be worth all your effort.