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Understanding Children with Autism


Entering the mind of a childI happened to meet my old friend last week who was just recovering from an accident. Due to the injury in her leg, she had gone through a surgery and got it fixed with help of steel rods. Now, she can’t walk properly, and the limping is quite visible. She is the mother of an autistic son, 14 years. After meeting her, I realised that I did not have much awareness about Autism despite working in the area of disability. For greater awareness and sensitization, I am sharing some useful information for parents.

What is Autism? 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), aka Autism, is a syndrome characterized by impairment in social interaction (withdrawal, failure to engage in interaction with peers or adults), delays in both verbal and nonverbal communication skills, deficits in cognitive skills, and impairment in the ability to engage in make-believe play. Individuals may engage in repetitive activities or a limited repertoire of activities. It develops from 0 to 3 years age group due to genetic chromosomal disorder.

There are generally two types of autistic children: high functioning and low functioning.

High functioning autistic children are over achievers, hyperactive and perform well at studies and work. However, the low functioning autistic children need constant care, supervision and life-long attention even to perform basic daily living skills  (DLS). They generally live at home with their parents or in residential facilities where their needs can be constantly addressed.

The Communication Challenge 

“I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream.” – Temple Grandin

Autism can be very broadly described as inability to interact socially with people. People affected by Autism are typically more interested in objects / things than in people around them. Though not exhaustive, here are some symptoms exhibited by people / children affected by autism :

  1. Deficit in social interaction: Lack of interest in creative pretend play, interacting with peers and surrounding. Dislikes variety or change of any kind.
  2. Deficit in communication ability: May not communicate typically by verbalizing or pointing; instead they may “hand-lead” to the desired object. May have decreased eye-contact, or copy / repeat words like a parrot (echolalia).
  3. Bizarre / repetitive behaviors (self-stimulation): Staring at ceiling fans for hours, spinning, rocking, flapping and licking their fingers, etc.

Also Read: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

Services for Children with Autism:

  1. Early Assessments and Identification
  2. Educational Programs
  3. Recreational and Occupational Programs
  4. Vocational Trainings
  5. Soft Skills Development & Communication
  6. Inclusive Activities in collaboration with mainstream children and parents

Services for Parents of Children with Autism:  

  1. Residential Care and Support Home
  2. Counseling of Parents to deal with denial and accept their autistic child
  3. Training of Parents in handling child with autism

Training Programs Related to Autism: 

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Shweta Chooramani is Manager of Corporate Fundraising at NGO Samarthanam, which works for the empowerment of persons with disabilities through education, sports, rehabilitation and income generation activities. She fulfills her love for writing by contributing to several blogs, along with being a full-time mother. Her personal blog can be read at http://sinhasat302.blogspot.in/


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